West Harlem Art Fund will present their fall art exhibition UNDAUNTED: We Are Still Here on Governors Island in Nolan Park, Building 10B (NP10). Opening September 9th, six artists will show paintings of urban scenes, graffiti, collage, and mixed media works. This exhibition includes an immersive component with a playlist of hip-hop and rap music to honor the 50th anniversary.

The 70’s was a challenging decade for New York City and the country. On the heels of the modern Civil Rights Movement, the country was divided by the war in Vietnam, Watergate, and unsettling economic turmoil. President Ford would not help a near-bankrupt city with a federal bailout.

New forms of expression help Americans share their everyday lives and validate those experiences. Communities of color intersected via an aging public transportation system. Despite the chaos New Yorkers persevered. They remained undaunted

In this 21st century, what lessons can we learn after surviving a global pandemic and a government coup attempt? How do we push forward and create new understanding and hope? 

Exhibition artists

Damali Abrams the Glitter Priestess is a New York City based artist. Damali attended the Whitney Independent Study Program and earned an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts and a BA from New York University

Damali is a member of SEQAA (Southeast Queens Artist Alliance). She is a recipient of the Women’s Studio Workshop Right Now! Production Grant and the Queens Council on the Arts New Works Grant. She has been a fellow at Culture Push, the Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop, A.I.R. Gallery, and apexart in Seoul, South Korea. Damali has also been an Artist-in-Residence at RU (Residency Unlimited), Fresh Milk in Barbados, Groundation Grenada, The Center for Book Arts, Jamaica Center for Arts & Learning (JCAL), and LMCC on Governors Island. She was a Creative-In-Residence at Brooklyn Public Library.

Damali’s work has been exhibited at many spaces including El Museo del Barrio, MoCADA (Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Art), Rush Arts Gallery, Longwood Gallery, The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, JCAL, and The Point. 

Her work has been featured in Artforum, Women & Performance: a journal of feminist theory, and on the blogs of art21, Fresh Milk, and Groundation Grenada. Her writing has been published by Harlequin Creature and Women’s Studio Workshop.

Multimedia artist Valérie Hallier came to the US with a Fulbright Scholarship after graduating from the ENSAD in her native Paris, France. In NYC, she received a MFA from SVA. Her work is being shown internationally. Main solo shows include “Screened Calls & Slow Portraits” at Medianoche gallery (NYC) and “Portraits Lents” at the ESAM, Caen, France. Group show locations include the LMCC Arts Center, Brooklyn Arts Council, A.I.R. gallery, Housatonic Museum (CT), ACM Siggraph (FL) and SCAN Arts Symposium (PA.) Commissioned by the Drawing Center (NYC) for Draw Now! Hallier has completed residencies at BRIC Media Arts’ first Biennial, LMCC Swing Space on Governor Island, Pioneer Works with the NY Theremin Society, NARS Foundation in Brooklyn and West Harlem Art Fund on Governors Island.

Representing nature, culture, and technology simultaneously within the artwork, Hallier speaks directly to the carnal and finite qualities of our humanity. She questions the patriarchal silos created between nature and culture and the hierarchy created between the living and the non-living. Hallier’s atomized visual vocabulary accumulates simple units like petals, recycled materials, beads or pixels, in order to materialize the complexity of our condition. Processes deployed are repetitive, compulsive and meditative, bridging the analog, digital and virtual worlds. Flowers, often genetically altered, have become a potent symbol in the work. In the ongoing series “Déflorée Self,” petals become vessels that translate the cerebral and emotional journey of letting go of traumatic experience, a recurrent theme in her work.

Dianne Hebbert is a Nicaraguan-American artist based in New York. She works primarily in painting, printmaking and installation art. As a Miami native she attended New World School of the Arts before she earned her BFA in Painting and Drawing from Purchase College and her MFA in Printmaking from Brooklyn College. Hebbert is a recipient of the Vermont Studio Center Fellowship and residency, she was selected as a Smack Mellon Hot Pick Artist in 2017 and an Emerging Leader of New York Arts 2016-2017 Fellow. Hebbert has completed residencies at Trestle Art Space in Brooklyn, Constance Saltonstall Foundation for the Arts, and is currently a Chashama Space to Connect artist. In the fall of 2019 she created an installation at Fordham Plaza in the Bronx for the Department of Transportation and Chashama.

Mark Gaston Pearce was Brooklyn, born and raised then lived for over three decades in Buffalo, New York. He now resides in Silver Spring Maryland where he has a home studio. Although he pursued a fulfilling career in the practice of law and government service, art has always been a significant part of Mark’s life. With the exception of a few semesters of formal training at Cornell University, Mark is primarily self-taught. Formerly on the Board of Directors of Buffalo Arts Studio and the Advisory Council of the Burchfield Penny Art Center, Mark has, himself been oil painting for over 40 years. Mark’s work was featured on the cover of “To Hear the River” a book of selected works by poet and author Kenneth A. McLane. In his 1993 review of a group exhibition of local African American artists, Buffalo News art critic Richard Huntington observed that Mark’s paintings of family life were “skillfully deployed, inventively composed and alive with sensitive renditions of character”. Mark’s most recent public display of his work is a commissioned mural “Strong Solo” for the Jefferson Avenue Murals sponsored by People Inc. and the WNY Urban Art Collective. Mark’s work has also been exhibited at the lobby galleries of the AFL-CIO and the Martin Luther King Jr. Labor Center, as well as several venues throughout the years. 

Dianne Smith’s intriguing and compelling minimalist abstracts are haunting and beautiful. Her sculptures and installations are an extension of that beauty. Dianne’s work represents her inner connection to self, which reflects the artistic and spiritual journey that has enabled her to find her voice as an artist. Her work incites our emotions with lush palettes, expressive brushstrokes, texture, and form. She creates provocative and meaningful imagery that challenges the viewer to see and consider pure color, movement, and organic shapes. While her work remains rooted in her African origins, its purpose is more universal. She puts it this way: “human civilizations and cultures all have Africa as their mother and are therefore more similar than we realize. I want my work to justly portray that connection, the essence of human existence, and thereby possibly affecting the whole of humankind for the better.”

Born in China but raised in New York City, Siyan Wong is a first generation immigrant. Her subjects are the working poor, the homeless, women and the elderly. 

Siyan acquired her art fundamentals at LaGuardia High School of Music and Art and Performing Arts. Though she went on to study history and economics in college, and then attended law school, she engaged in art one way or another. In 2000, she began working as a workers’ rights lawyer. Since 2015, she renewed her art studies with semester and weekend classes at various places, including the New York Art Academy, Cooper Union and, currently, the Art Students League. Privately, she spends her time studying the works of great painters and paints in her home studio late into the night. She is inspired by the colors of Paul Cezanne, the confidence in Alice Neel’s lines, the powerful stories told by Jacob Lawrence’s simple figures and forms, and the passion of Isidre Nonell to paint the socially ostracized at a time when they were “invisible.” 

Since 2018, Siyan has exhibited her paintings at the Equity Gallery of New York Artist Equity Association, the New York Arts Center, and The National Arts Club. She has spoken about the subject matter of her art at the Asia Society New York, the Museum of Chinese in the Americas, and various universities.