faces of harlem

Faces of Harlem

faces of harlem

Photograph by Sierra Odessa

Faces of Harlem is a multi-site outdoor photography installation curated by founder Sade Boyewa El and Kate Sterlin, featuring portraits of our friends and neighbors in Harlem—a documentation of who we are today, 100 years after the Harlem Renaissance. In early 2021, longtime-Harlemite Sade Boyewa El invited nine other photographers to create portraits of our people from this beloved neighborhood—in hopes of inspiring meaningful conversations, fostering connection, and bridging some of the many visible gaps in our community.

Faces of Harlem will be presented across four parks in Harlem: Morningside Park, Jackie Robinson Park, Marcus Garvey Park, and Rucker Park.


Featuring: Freedom Allah, Jean Andre Antoine, Sade Boyewa El, Tyrell Holland, Ariella Imena, Abigail Montes, Sierra Odessa, Oluwaseye Olusa, Tony King Redman, Kate Sterlin

Curated by: Sade Boyewa El and Kate Sterlin
Location: Harlem Historic Parks / Morningside Park, Marcus Garvey Park, Jackie Robinson, Park Ruckers Park

Faces of Harlem is exhibited as part of NYC Parks’ Art in the Park program and generously supported by Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Duggal Visual Solutions, LTI Lightside Photographic Services, Photoville, Ilford, New York Foundation for the Arts, Lomography, Morningside Park, Shrine, Silvana, and Melba’s.

About The Artists

Sade Boyewa El is the founder and curator of Faces of Harlem. Boyewa El brings her philosophy about uncovering beauty to everything she does. Starting her career as an internationally renowned makeup artist, she then became the beauty editor for TRACE Magazine.

When she’s not growing vegetables or mushrooms in the community garden of love, which she founded in the early 90’s, or stocking the first free food fridge in Manhattan, the Harlem Community Fridge—which she founded in 2020—she’s taking stunning portraits of her beloved neighbors and friends. In 2018, she started The Harlem PoP-Up Collective to support, elevate, and empower local Harlem artists, creators, designers, movers and shakers. During this time, she started setting up the Faces of Harlem pop-up photo booth, creating portraits of people in Harlem.

Bringing this project to fruition is many years in the making, but the stars aligned in finding collaborators and photographers that share her vision.

Boyewa El earned a B.A. in social psychology of women, gender and the family from the CUNY Baccalaureate Program for Unique and Interdisciplinary Studies.

Kate Sterlin is the curator of Faces of Harlem. Sterlin first met Boyewa El when they were dropping off their two-year-olds at Children’s Liberation Daycare Center in the Lower East Side a million years ago. Many lifetimes later, these two-year-olds are making their way in the world as 26-year-olds. Sterlin and Boyewa El have come back together for this very special project—bringing Faces of Harlem to its full potential by combining many of Sterlin’s skills from her years in the art and design sector. While her love and passion has been as an image maker, she has always taken opportunities to create spaces for art and community. She currently lives in Los Angeles, CA.

Link To Website For All The Artist Bios

About The Organization

Faces of Harlem seeks to act as a cultural mediator—presenting work and people that are often underrepresented in Harlem with a particular emphasis on highlighting the neighborhood’s African American and diasporic cultures. In disinvested, low-income communities of color, art acts as a tool for strengthening cultural identity and processing trauma. Faces of Harlem will facilitate an understanding of the past by envisioning a shared, more equitable future through the power of photography and oral history.