On View:
March 5 – May 25, 2019
ArtsWestchester Gallery

31 Mamaroneck Avenue
White Plains, NY

Gallery Hours:
Tue – Fri, 12-5pm | Sat 12-6pm


Modern Families focuses the camera lens on the families we’re given and the families we choose.

Modern Families” is a photographic inquiry into who and what constitutes the American family today. Anchored by rarely exhibited work by Harlem Renaissance photographer James Van Der Zee (1886-1983), it explores the diverse faces and relationships that represent “family” from the points of view of eleven regional photographers.

The families we are given– blood relations– provide frameworks for the families we choose. Groups united by shared values, lifestyles, or emotional needs – religious associations, sports teams, or community groups, for example – may also be defined and experienced as family. Whether the ones made for us or the ones we make, the families we recognize are networks of support and interaction that contribute to our identities in the larger world.

The works by Van Der Zee, chosen and loaned by Westchester resident Donna Mussenden Van Der Zee, the photographer’s widow, provide context and vital content for the exhibition. In the 1920s and 1930s, Van Der Zee’s studio was a place where the rising African American middle class in Harlem could be represented as they wished to be seen.

The contemporary works in the exhibition include both studio-style portraiture and documentary work in which individuals and their given or chosen families interact in a variety of encounters between photographer and subject.

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Exhibiting Artists

Tom Atwood  |  Gillian Laub  |  Barry Mason  |  Iaritza MenjivarOcean Morisset  |  Shayok Mukhopadhyay  Stefan Radtke | John Shearer  |  James Van Der Zee  |  Chris Verene  |  Sandra Wong Geroux

Exhibition Sponsor

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Film Screening:
One Stride Chosen Family
Friday, May 3
Performing Families II:
The Art of Runway and Step
Saturday, May 4
James Van Der Zee’s Family Portraits: A Dialogue with Dr. Drew Sawyer & Donna Mussenden Van Der Zee
Thursday, May 9
Westchester Pride
The Art of Runway Walking with
Twiggy Pucci Garcon
Sunday, June 2
Exhibition Opening Reception
March 3
Gallery Nite Out:
Portrait Mode
March 7
Performing Families April 13

May 3 and May 9 programs are made possible by Humanities New York with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

May 4 and June 2 programs are made possible by Humanities New York with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the New York State Council on the Arts.

Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this program series does not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.