Melvin Harper

Melvin Harper featured in "It is astonishing the lengths to which a person, or a people, will go in order to avoid a truthful mirror"

Project for Empty Space is pleased to present It is astonishing the lengths to which a person, or a people, will go in order to avoid a truthful mirror, an exhibition in collaboration with the For Freedoms initiative, featuring MFA Photo/Video alumni Melvin Harper. The exhibition was inspired by James Baldwin’s short story "This Morning, This Evening, So Soon," and explores the themes that are still relevant over half a century after Baldwin’s work was published. It is astonishing the lengths to which a person, or a people, will go in order to avoid a truthful mirror will be on view through January 2019.

still from  Watch  (Melvin Harper, 2016)

still from Watch (Melvin Harper, 2016)

Baldwin's “This Morning, This Evening, So Soon,” was published in The Atlantic Monthly, in 1960, and later included in a collection of short stories, “Going to Meet the Man,” this piece follows it’s protagonist through a series of memories and reflections on the eve of his return to the United States after years of living in Paris. As with many of Baldwin's delicate and visceral short stories, the thematic underpinnings of “This Morning, This Evening, So Soon,” are racism and violence, invisibility and imposed identity, love and loss, pain and precarity, and, perhaps most importantly, the intersections of all of the aforementioned human phenomena. In It is astonishing..., these themes are explored within a contemporary framework.

still from  3017  (Melvin Harper, 2017)

still from 3017 (Melvin Harper, 2017)

Founded in 2016 by artists Hank Willis Thomas and Eric Gottesman, For Freedoms is a platform for creative civic engagement, discourse, and direct action. Inspired by American artist Norman Rockwell’s paintings of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms (1941)—freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear—For Freedoms’ exhibitions, installations, and public programs use art to deepen public discussions on civic issues and core values, and to advocate for equality, dialogue, and civic participation.

Melvin Harper is an English born Creative Art Director and Visual Artist based between Hollywood, Ca, and NYC. His recent exhibitions include: Volta Art Fair, NYC; Art Basel, Miami Beach; and Re: Art, NY.

Melvin Harper featured in Play at Pulse Miami Beach 2017

Congratulations are due to recent graduate Melvin Harper on the acceptance of his thesis project, 3017, into PULSE Contemporary Art Fair's PLAY exhibition at PULSE Miami Beach 2017. PLAY is PULSE's dedicated showcase of video and new media works. Harper's work has also recently been featured in exhibitions at Transmitter Gallery, The Re: Art Space, and David Nolan Gallery.

Curatated by Jasmine Wahi and Rebecca Pauline Jampol, the theme for this year’s edition of PLAY is “POWER”, inviting artists to explore the multiple iterations of the word, its definitions, and the myriad of ways to interpret and contextualize power.

“The nine videos that we picked include works that contend with the stripping away of power through the lens of the oppressed or expose the dynamics of political dominance through the perspective of the spectator. Others intend to ameliorate the negative impacts of history, validate the power of personal achievement or emphasize the crippling impact of cultural power paradigms on the masses. Each of the videos selected are intended to illicit a visceral response and may be difficult to watch; a few may make you weep, gasp in shock, laugh with an unexplained sense of victory, or sigh with relief. It is our hope that this collection stirs you, and that you feel the full impact of our idea of power.”

The exhbition will run from Thursday December 7th through Sunday December 10th. For more details on hours, please click here.

"The truth is there is no such thing as the ‘Black Man’, but he is rendered nonetheless, as a mythological being, contemporary science fiction. Faced with the capitalist age’s omission of his circumstances - mass incarceration, modern indenture, an oppression so exaggerated and nuanced into praxis, such circumstances could only be science fiction." - Melvin Harper

Alumni featured in exhibition The Blue of Distance at Transmitter Gallery

“The color of that distance is the color of an emotion, the color of solitude and of desire, the color of there seen from here, the color of where you are not. And the color where you can never go.” – Rebecca Solnit

Transmitter Gallery is pleased to announce The Blue of Distance, an exhibition of emerging artists who disrupt conventional notions of identity and address themes of alienation in their work, by operating within the space between connection and distance. Taking its title from an essay by Rebecca Solnit, which explores the color blue’s role as a metaphor for longing and desire, this exhibition features works reflecting personal narratives of isolation from larger communities due to race, gender, religion, mental health, or social inequality.

The opening reception will take place on Friday September 15 from 6-9pm with the exhibition running through October 15, 2017. For more details, please click here.

Still from 3017. Image courtesy of Melvin Harper. 

Still from 3017. Image courtesy of Melvin Harper. 

In class of 2017 alumni Melvin Harper’s films he addresses race, gender, and identity, examining what it’s like to be perceived as an African-American man in the United States. Weaving together appropriated imagery from cell phone videos, dash cams, news footage, early science-fiction films, and Google searches, Harper considers issues of visibility and perception. In Harper’s films, conceived as a trilogy, his own disillusion with markers of identity and racial inequality are present—African-American men are juxtaposed to aliens, stuffed in cages, and unnecessarily brutalized because of their perceived otherness. Harper will be showing 3 films during the exhibition including his thesis 3017. 

Still from Sign Language. Courtesy of Melvin Harper. 

Still from Sign Language. Courtesy of Melvin Harper. 

Photographer, educator and class of 2009 alumni Maureen Drennan has always been drawn to vulnerable people or communities that are isolated from mainstream society. Earlier this year, she met and photographed Arab women who have all endured various types of discrimination. In photographing young Arab-American women, she was interested in dispelling otherness. In The Blue of Distance, Drennan’s work focuses on one of her subjects, Adam. Adam is hijra, a transgender female of Pakistani descent.

Nesting from the project Ordinary Devotion. Image courtesy of Martha Fleming-Ives. 

Nesting from the project Ordinary Devotion. Image courtesy of Martha Fleming-Ives. 

Martha Fleming-Ives grew up in Northampton, MA and currently lives in Brooklyn, NY. Her work has been exhibited at Silver Eye Center for Photography, Center for Photography at Woodstock, Weatherspoon Art Museum, John Michael Kohler Arts Center, and Griffin Museum of Photography. A 2010 graduate of the MFA Photo, Video and Related Media she is currently an Adjunct Professor in the Honors Program at the School of Visual Arts, NY. 

The exhibition, The Blue of Distance is curated by alum, Kate Greenberg (class of 2010)

Upcoming Exhibition at the Re: Art Show featuring Faculty Grahame Weinbren, current students, and alumni.

Guest Curated by faculty member Wardell Milan and alum, Melvin Harper. The works in ‘Haphazard Paradigm’ (the 14th edition of the Re: Art Show) look to question the deep cultural identities a person invests in race, gender, and nationality.

A combination of video art, installation, sculpture, etc., the exhibition will feature work by Grahame Weinbren, a pioneer of interactive art and faculty member alongside projects by thesis student Johnnie Chatman and alums Sullivan Gardner, Melvin Harper, Anders Jones and the international women's collective Et.Alia (comprised of class of 2016 grads Ala d'Amico, Jiwon Choi, Netta Laufer, Kelsey Lynn and Sara Meghdari.)

The opening reception will take place on Saturday September 9th, 2017 from 6 to 10pm, with many of the artists expected to be in attendance. Running through October 8th, the Re: Art Show is open weekends from 12pm to 6pm at 630 Flushing Ave in Brooklyn.

For more information on Haphazard Paradigm please click here.


The Re: Art Show is an ever-evolving, recurrent, curatorial project spearheaded by alumni of the program Erin Davis and Max C Lee. Housed within the now-defunct portions of the former Pfizer Pharmaceutical factory in Brooklyn, Re: Art Show brings together an abnormally wide breadth of artists in an abnormal environment.

For more information of the Re: Art show click here. 

Image courtesy of the Re: Art Show.

Image courtesy of the Re: Art Show.