"In 1933, Morgan and Marvin Smith, twin sons of sharecroppers from Kentucky, arrived in Harlem. Despite the hardships of the Great Depression, they found a flourishing arts community and quickly established their place as visual chroniclers of the life of the city. For thirty years, the Smiths used their cameras to record the achievements of blacks in the face of poverty and discrimination. Rejecting the focus on misery and hopelessness common to Harlem photographers of the time, they documented important 'firsts' for the city's blacks (the first black policeman, the first black women juror), the significant social movements of their day (anti-lynching protests, rent strikes, and early civil rights rallies), as well as the everyday life of Harlem, from churchgoers dressed for Easter to children playing in the street... Drawn from the collection of the Schomberg Center for Research in Black Culture and the Smith family archives, Harlem reproduces nearly 150 photographs by these important artists and chroniclers, bringing to life a vital community of great cultural, political, and economic achievement."*
Over forty of these reproductions of significant historical portraits by the Smiths can now be found on SVA Image Library (MDID).
*Excerpt/summary from Harlem: The Vision of Morgan and Marvin Smith (University Press of Kentucky, 1998), by Morgan Smith.
Nov 18 2015