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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Exhibition Sponsor


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.