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Nari Ward & If You Build It

June 25-August 10, 2014

On the occasion of  No Longer Empty's 5-year anniversary of presenting site-specific art, the group exhibition If You Build It takes root in Sugar Hill—the legendary epicenter of the Harlem Renaissance. The project is inspired and presented in partnership with Broadway Housing Communities at their newest site, designed by architect David Adjaye. Reflecting an integrated approach to housing and architecture, the project forges connections between art, architecture, community, and activism. 


Nari Ward will present a new work entitled Sugar Hill Smiles, inviting community members of Sugar Hill, in Harlem, New York to smile into 2,000 cans with mirrored-interiors, which will then be sealed and labeled. The work, in which the artist creates a “smile manufacturing center” and explores ideas about what can be commodified, addresses how the Harlem brand is being marketed and exploited for the profit of those that have offered little direct investment in the neighborhood. Sugar Hill Smiles also engages with the "canned" cliché of the African American minstrel character whose facial expression is meant to reassure the dominant class or audience that all is well with the status quo. Ward will offer each canned smile for $10.00, with the proceeds supporting the Sugar Hill Educational Fund for Early Childhood Programming.