West Harlem Arts invited established and highly recognized professional artists, curators and arts administrators from our community to participate in our selection process. They spent two days reviewing the work and discussing the submissions’ aesthetics, themes, and relevancy to the community and the issues we are all facing during this pandemic. We didn’t anticipate how much their discussions would contribute to shaping our show and we are honored to be able to share their thoughts here with you.

Byron McCray

Illustrator, Harlem School of the Arts

“The experience of selecting the artwork for this year’s exhibition was an important responsibility. It has been a full year since we’ve been able to attend exhibition openings and social events. Through the jury process, we curated a collection that captured the eclectic energy of West Harlem while showcasing both seasoned artists and young talent. There is so much that our younger artists can learn from interacting with the established creatives, and vice versa. We hope that this exhibition serves as that bridge to communication and education. Within the climate of social injustice, it was also vital that the beauty of black culture be celebrated. Now more than ever, in a time where black bodies continue to die at the hands of police and vigilantes, artistic expression is the greatest protest. Each piece shares a common thread of freedom, joy, and resilience. Much like Harlem, my selections were based on connecting the past, present, and future.”

Sophia Morris-Pittman

Arts Education & Outreach Manager, Dance Theatre of Harlem

“I have shared on jury panels before, but I was not prepared for this experience to be so fulfilling and rewarding. I had a great time listening to everyone and learning from their opinions. I was especially impressed with the committee leaders on how they lead the meetings by demonstrating a genuine sense of love for their community and the well-being of others. It was time well spent and it was a privilege to share my thoughts and contribute to the promotion of talented artists.”

Ana-Ofelia Rodriguez

Broadway Housing Communities, Director Rio Gallery I & II

“Firstly, I am honored to have been asked to be a juror and for the opportunity to work closely with a group of people that live and breathe art.  Secondly, I was truly amazed by how well emerging young artists stood up next to those that are very well established and known to the community and beyond.  Going through the body of work presented to us gave joy and woke up all of my senses.  For a while, I was pessimistic about the future of the arts in Northern Manhattan but this Community Exhibit is proof that art is alive and well in Harlem.”

Suhaly Bautista-Carolina

Senior Managing Educator, Audience Development and Engagement, Metropolitan Museum of Art

“Being part of the 2021 West Harlem Community Exhibition Jury Panel was such a powerful and personal experience for me as a West Harlem native. It was thrilling to witness the creativity, vision, and artistry of all of the applicants and the many ways we invest in our beloved community. It was my immense honor and privilege to learn about each artist and to support these creators on their path forward.”

Kim Hamilton

Founder & Director / Hamilton Landmark Galleries

“I’ve served on many panels over the last 30 years. This is the first time that I encountered an environment where the panel decided that they wanted to include as many artist applicants as possible and where the panel took on the role of a curator in choosing what pieces could potentially be shown in series, virtually and in person. For me, these departures were the most exciting part of the process.”