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Documenting Harlem in pictures

Mika Basson | 12/15/2016, 1:30 p.m.
December marks a time of festivities, family and celebrating what we’re grateful for.

December marks a time of festivities, family and celebrating what we’re grateful for. Harlem-based photographer Karin Seastone Stern has chosen to celebrate Harlem and its essence in a month-long photography exhibit at the 115th Street New York Public Library.

The exhibit, which runs through the month of December, pays homage to the people of Harlem, its rich history and its vibrant culture. “The camera enabled my eye to capture a pulse and heartbeat of living in the Harlem community today. What emerges is the sense that Harlem was and still is their people whether musician, activist, politician, writer, owner; past and present; famous

and not,” said Stern.

Stern’s collection of images, titled “We Are Harlem: People and Places,” captures essential moments in the everyday life of the community and the streets of Harlem. “Harlem is layered in many diverse ways, but underlining it is a pride and deep sense of community. Each photo had a story that opened connections to another story that tapped deep into the Black community,” Stern explained. “I hope that people not only enjoy viewing the photographs but see and appreciate the depth and compassion of the people in their own neighborhood. For those who do not know or live in Harlem, that it opens their awareness

of this amazing community.”

Stern’s photos capture everything from the bustling life on 125th street to the rich music culture in Harlem Jazz bars and the flamboyant wall murals. “The camera is a vehicle enabling connections between nature, people and life,” she continued. “The camera gives permission to stop the time that rushes by. The moment it clicks, the past is simultaneously

preserved for the future.”

Stern’s passion and interest in photography grew after retirement from the health care profession. “Retirement allowed me the opportunity to take photography formally with classes at the International Center of Photography,” she said. “The process curiously pulled me back to when I was 19, as a nurse beginning my career at Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh. As I learned and honed my skills, it was the compassion, respect and connection with people that enabled care to be received. It is this same sense that continues, which draws people today to the camera for the lens to capture.”

Stern lives in Harlem with her husband. She enjoys their traveling together in the United States and Sweden and spending time with their grown daughters,

who live in Brooklyn.

The exhibit is held at the 115th street NYPL until Dec. 31. Use of library space by Stern for this exhibit does not indicate endorsement by The New York Public Library.