Uptown Triennial 2023

Uptown Triennial 2023

Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery at Columbia University

August 30, 2023
Uptown Triennial 2023
June 22–September 17, 2023
Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery at Columbia University
615 W 129th St
New York, NY 10027
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Artists: Terry Adkins, Tiffany Alfonseca, Maria Chavez/Jordi Wheeler, Michael Cummings, Sonia Louise Davis, Lisa DuBois, Ivan Forde, Jeffrey Gibson, Kathleen Granados, Alteronce Gumby, Jewel Ham, Lucia Hierro, Carlos Jesus Martinez Dominguez/FEEGZ, Beau McCall, Dindga McCannon, Ruben Natal-San Miguel, Rashaad Newsome, Bayeté Ross Smith, Carl Hancock Rux/Dianne Smith, and RaFia Santana

The Wallach Art Gallery at Columbia University is pleased to present Uptown Triennial 2023 on view through September 17, 2023. The third iteration in the series, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of hip hop, is a visual arts tribute to the sonic—in the realms of music, soundscapes, and spoken word—that resonate with Harlem. Transgressing the singularity of the senses 22 studio, media, post-graffiti, interdisciplinary, and performing artists engage with myriad histories, cultures, and pressing contemporary issues.

Over the course of the twentieth century, the upper Manhattan neighborhood of Harlem became synonymous with urban culture inclusive of African Americans, Africans, and Latinx with roots in the Caribbean and beyond. This has created an ever-changing fusion of influences, especially in the realm of music and sound. The depth and range of sonic sources available to the Uptown Triennial 2023 artists—from jazz to merengue to soundscapes to hip-hop and mix tapes—resounds throughout the exhibition. Featuring a wide range of practices and genres the exhibition is a platform for the rich cultural clashes and fusions that resonate across visual and sonic experiences inclusive of painting, textile arts, sculpture, gifs, hybrid sound/art projects, moving images, multimedia installations, and textural/compositional pieces. 

Six groupings are representative of the distinct approaches to the sonic world:

Included are works where the visual composition, its patterns, and rhythms, reference formal aspects of music and sometimes speech, such as in the paintings by Sonia Louise Davis, Alteronce Gumby, and Jeffrey Gibson

Among works that blend historical African American textile and musical traditions, Michael Cummings’s quilts feature jazz ensembles and directly reference Jürgen Schadeberg’s 1954 photograph “The Three Jazzolomos” and Dindga McCannon’s sculptural deconstructed quilt is festooned with titles of Thelonius Monk songs. 

Other artists are incorporating researched historical material into their installations. Carlos Jesus Martinez Dominguez/FEEGZ’s post-graffiti mural was created in collaboration with the CUNY Dominican Studies Institute and Carl Hancock Rux (in collaboration with Dianne Smith) presents a convergence of Jewish and African American musical traditions. Both projects access public archives to amplify the artist’s connection with ethnic specific histories.

Drawn from personal and biographical histories and family associations, Ivan Forde’s work is a convergence of a tribute to the jazz vocalist June Tyson (1936–92) and the memories and mythologies of his Guyanese family, Beau McCall’s collages comprising items from his personal archive show the vibrant energy of the queer punk band he performed with in his youth, and Kathleen Granados breathes life into her father’s cassette tape collection of early ‘70s radio recordings. 

The invocation of music is signaled by the bodily gestures of bodies in Jewel Ham’s and Tiffany Alfonseca’s party paintings. Text, music and video converge in Rashaad Newsome’s live performance and montage video event, Maria Chavez’s turntable focused object, and sound works with Jordi WheelerRaFia Santana’s intimate personal narratives collapse into the pulse of urban life in her performance video and digital posters.

The importance of the public sphere takes center stage in Terry Adkins’s sculpture of urban architecture and church music, Ruben Natal-San Miguel’s photographs of music venue facades, Lucia Hierro’s soundscape featuring Uptown field recordings, Lisa DuBois’s photographs of East Harlem firehose baptisms, and Bayeté Ross Smith’s community-sourced hip-hop music and interviews emanating from a boombox tower. All are tributes to how sonic experiences bring us together.

The references to Harlem as a crossroads of cultures, and art’s ability to generate connections across difference are evident throughout Uptown Triennial 2023, intentionally engaging the senses and awakening a sense of possibility.

The exhibitions and programs are open to the public and provided free of charge. The Wallach Art Gallery’s exhibition programs are made possible with support from the Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Endowment Fund, the Charina Endowment Fund, and the gallery’s patrons.

Get the Power Boomboxes: Freedom Stories:
 Thursday, September 7, 6:30–7:30pm, virtual
Artist Bayeté Ross Smith leads a set of virtual discussions about the global presentation of his project Got the Power: Boomboxes. A virtual program.

Uptown Triennial 2023 panel discussion: Saturday, September 9, 1:30–3pm 
At Katharina Otto-Bernstein Screening Room, Lenfest Center for the Arts. Uptown Triennial 2023 artists Kathleen Granados, Ivan Forde, Carls Jesus Martinez-Dominguez/FEEGZ, Carl Hancock Rux, and Dianne Smith in conversation with Wallach director, Betti-Sue Hertz​.

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Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery at Columbia University
August 30, 2023

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