by Amy McCarthy
Live jazz music fills the air and guests are chattering, armed with a glass of wine. York St. John University has transformed its Arts Foyer into a guided history of 1930s Harlem, New York.
Last year a group of second year English Literature students on the ‘Literature at Work’ module created resources based on the Harlem Renaissance and now their work is on display for staff, students, and members of the public to see. The exhibition includes film, models, photography, and slide shows. To promote Black History Month, the students have the opportunity to talk about their work and express their enthusiasm for the cultural movement.
Although the students created their works of art separately, together the pieces complement each other to display the rich culture of Harlem. One of the works on display is a York/New York trail, where famous Harlem Renaissance landmarks are matched up to locations in York. The brochure is displayed on one of the walls and is accompanied by a short film in which the creators follow the trail they made around York.
Below the York/New York trail is a 3D model of key landmarks from the Harlem Renaissance. Accompanying each building on the miniature version of Harlem is a plaque listing the pop cultural references relating to the locations used.
Visitors also cannot help but admire the beautiful collages occupying some of the boards at the exhibition. These wonderfully creative pieces combine vintage styling with a contemporary artistic edge to inform the audience about key areas of culture. One golden frame discusses music of the Harlem Renaissance while a few smaller frames look at the works of the great literary mind Langston Hughes.
At the exhibition launch, the crowded room was testament to how student work is valued. The launch night was a huge success, bringing members of the university and the public together. Attendees left feeling better educated about the Harlem Renaissance, and hopefully inspired to pick up some literature from the era.
The ‘York/New York’ Exhibition will be displayed in the Arts Foyer at York St. John University until the end of October.