It is estimated that one in every eight families in the United States had relatives come through Brooklyn when settling in America. A new exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York, The City Within: Brooklyn Photographs by Alex Webb & Rebecca Norris Webb brings to light Brooklyn’s vibrant cultural diversity, dynamism, and “city within a city” feel. The exhibit, which opens today, presents more than thirty images created by celebrated photographers Rebecca Norris Webb and Alex Webb.
Alex Webb. Borough Park, 2016. Courtesy of the artist.
“The Webbs traversed nearly every corner of Brooklyn, showing its dichotomy as bustling, diverse metropolis and a place full of green spaces and tranquility,” the Museum states, “The result: A poignant and powerful portrait of the borough that the artists have called home for 20 years.”
Alex Webb. Prospect-Lefferts Gardens, 2015. Courtesy of the artist.
Rebecca Norris Webb has published seven photography books depicting everything from her home state of South Dakota to street photography to the parks and gardens of Brooklyn. In 2019, she was a recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Grant. She co-created the book Brooklyn: The City Within with her husband Alex Webb, who has authored 16 photography books on settings like the Amazon, Istanbul, and the U.S.-Mexico border.
Rebecca Norris Webb. Winter Storm, Prospect Park, 2016. Courtesy of the artist.
Alex, who was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2007, has sought to portray Brooklyn’s cultural diversity through photographing its ethnic enclaves. Alex Webb’s photographs in the exhibition cover many of Brooklyn’s diverse neighborhoods like Brownsville, Williamsburg, Bushwick, and Borough Park. In one photograph, children play in the street in Park Slope as bubbles drift through the air.
Alex Webb. Brownsville, Easter Sunday, 2016. Courtesy of the artist.
In a photograph taken in Brownsville, a child holding a balloon stares into the camera as two other children, one holding a scarf and another holding a basketball, stare into the distance.
Photo Alex Webb. Farragut Housing in Vinegar Hill, 2016. Courtesy of the artist.
Rebecca Norris Webb’s photographs in the exhibition depict Brooklyn’s natural scenes in places like Prospect Park and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. In one photograph taken in Prospect Park during a snowstorm, a couple can be seen with their large dog as the camera lens becomes blurrier with the snowfall.
Rebecca Norris Webb. Our Garden, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, 2016. Courtesy of the artist
In another photograph from the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, a group of people stand below cherry blossoms while starting at beautiful red and pink flowers on a sunny day. Curator Sean Corcoran, the Curator of Prints and Photographs at the Museum, has incorporated several of Rebecca Norris Webb’s poems are incorporated into the exhibition as well, many of which are reproduced as extended labels that accompany certain photographs.
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Header photo by Alex Webb. Park Slope, 2018. Chromogenic development print. Courtesy of the artist.