Gallery at the Silberman School of Social Work, Hunter College, located near 119th Street in East Harlem
Gallery at the Silberman School of Social Work, Hunter College, located near 119th Street in East Harlem

On display at the Hunter College Art Galleries in East Harlem are over fifty years of photographs of the El Barrio neighborhood by resident and photographer Hiram Maristany. The exhibit, located within Silberman School of Social Work, depicts the everyday life Maristany observed while growing up with eight siblings on East 111th Street. His chance encounter with the Magnum photographer Robert Henriques opened the door to his love of photography and Henriques, seeing that spark of creativity in this young boy, gave him his first camera – a Leica IIIg.

It was during Maristany’s earlier years teaching a photography workshop at the Community Resource Center on 117th Street that he became acquainted with young Latino activists who were forming the New York Chapter of the radical group Young Lords Party. By 1969, Maristany became their official photographer. Numerous photos from these historic days were chosen for this exhibit, including many that have never been seen before by the public.

The name of the exhibit–Anchor–is meant to represent Maristany’s deep involvement in El Barrio over the past half century. Six contemporary artists–Nicole Cohen, Selena Kimball, Miguel Luciano, Seven Perez, Saul Williams, and Caroline Woolard–were chosen to participate in Anchor, selected because of their individual involvement in the East Harlem community or their relationship to Maristany. Each of these artist selected photographs from Maristany’s own personal collection to create a portion of the exhibit.

Curator Arden Sherman, a name you may recognize for her work on the Kara Walker exhibition at the former Domino Sugar Factory in Brooklyn, has put together an engaging and diverse exhibition which includes audio and video installations, portrait sessions, workshops and a performance walking tour. The exhibit itself will include 35 photographs by Maristany.

Selected by Saul Williams
Photographs selected by Saul Williams
Saul Williams
Photography selected by Saul Williams and audio by Gil Scott-Heron, poet
Photography by Hiram Maristany. Selected by Nicole Cohen
Photography by Hiram Maristany. Selected by Nicole Cohen
Club Broadway 96, c.1983
Club Broadway 96, c.1983
Hiram Maristany
Portrait sessions based on memory in Selena Kimball’s project collect a neighborhoods history. By having a person sit with the sketch artist and telling them the memory of someone’s face, a memory is interpreted and preserved
Entrance to the Gallery with his images of the Young Lords Party
Entrance to the Gallery with images of the Young Lords Party

With its own entrance on East 119th Street and connecting wide-walled corridor to the main entrance of the college on Third Avenue, the Hunter College Art Galleries aims to showcase artists who are engaged in social practice, public interventions, community projects and all that is pertinent to their college of social work. The current exhibit, Anchor, will run through June 13th, 2015 and is free.

While there, check out other unique places to visit in East Harlem – The East Harlem Courthouse known for the oldest jail structure still standing, East Harlem’s Graffiti Hall of Fame, The El Barrio Music Center, many of Harlem’s fine bakeries are in El Barrio, La Marqueta. Get in touch with the author at AFineLyne.