Press Releases

Thursday, January 18, 2018
No. 3


Part of Parks’ Celebration of Black History Month

NYC Parks presents “Identity,” a new exhibition on view at the Arsenal Gallery in Central Park through February 23, 2018. “Identity” showcases works in fiber that explore imagery of people of the African Diaspora.

Curated by Michelle Bishop of Harlem Needle Arts, “Identity” disrupts the notion that images and culture of the African Diaspora are “trends”, rather than a lifestyle. The exhibition features artists who use a variety of media including embroidery, soft sculpture, quilt, and mixed media. With elements of swag, spirituality, icons, music, and social justice, the works illustrate self-awareness, identify, motivation, and ethnic connectivity to express traditions that influence the artists’ lives.

“For decades, NYC Parks has celebrated Black History Month with programs devoted to African American arts and culture – and this year’s Ebony Society exhibition carries on that vibrant tradition,” said NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP. “This collaboration with Harlem Needle Arts showcases tapestries that sensitively explore the joy, pain, and triumph of the African American experience.”

The exhibition includes works by Krystle Collins, Valerie Deas, Shimoda Donna Emanuel, Ife Felix, Sylvia Hernandez, Dindga McCannon, Ruth Miller, LaVesha Parker, and Teresa Vega. The show is supported by NYC Parks’ Ebony Society.

“The artists exhibited in ‘Identity’ capture individual, societal, cultural, civil movements, and heritage through their brilliant works” said Ebony Society President Arnyce Foster-Hernandez. “The Black History Month Art Exhibit not only celebrates African American history, education, and culture, but also highlights diversity and commonality. The Ebony Society seeks to challenge the artistic potential of the exhibit every year by introducing thought-provoking, intellectual, and inspirational themes. We are grateful for the partnership with Michelle Bishop of Harlem Needle Arts to highlight artists’ use of fiber and textile art.”

“Our culture can’t be erased through media sound bites. The exhibit embraces the organic nature of varying backgrounds and traditions which govern each artist’s life. ‘Identity’ is an artistic voice that influences the essence of living your truth through one’s own emancipated terms while acknowledging cultural greatness,” says Harlem Needle Arts Executive Director Michelle Bishop.

About Harlem Needle Arts
Harlem Needle Arts is an arts and cultural organization at the forefront of revolutionizing, preserving, and expanding the narrative of fiber, textile, design, and needle arts in the African Diaspora through exhibitions, education, technical support, economic development and other tools. Harlem Needle Arts presents the work of both emerging and established artists in local and international exhibitions, corporate and museum acquisitions, and publications, including books, magazines and blogs. Our teaching artists produce innovative work in their fields and contribute to HNA's community programming by examining and creating vibrant imagery that explores the multi-dimensionality of black identities and art histories; they connect their works, teaching, and discussions with contemporary social, political, and cultural discourses in the Harlem community and beyond.

About NYC Parks Ebony Society
The NYC Parks Ebony Society was founded in 1985 with the purpose of unifying Parks' African American community, increasing African American visibility, and recognizing those who make outstanding contributions not only to Parks, but also their communities. Soon thereafter, the Ebony Society was chartered as a non-profit. The Society derives its name from the Ebony tree, indigenous to Africa and known for its unusual strength. Since 1985, the Society has increased its membership, now nearly 200 members strong, and it has become an integral part of the NYC Parks community. The Society has helped organize the annual Black History Month exhibition in the Arsenal Gallery since 1991.

Parks’ Arsenal Gallery is dedicated to examining themes of nature, urban space, wildlife, New York City parks and park history. It is located on the third floor of Parks’ headquarters, in Central Park, on Fifth Avenue at 64th Street. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., and admission is free. For more information on the Arsenal Gallery, please call 212-360-8163 or visit

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