Aug 17—Sep 30, 2022
Throughout the twentieth century, Harlem has been regarded as a beacon of African American history and culture. Sites such as the Apollo Theater, Abyssinian Baptist Church, and Malcolm X Corner, at 125th Street and Seventh Avenue, serve as popular postcard images that represent significant places and moments in this community.
Today, Harlem continues to evolve as a center of history and culture. Every day, changes are witnessed by its residents and experienced by tourists and visitors from all over the world. Harlem Postcards, an ongoing series, invites contemporary artists of diverse backgrounds to reflect on Harlem as a site of cultural activity, political vitality, and creative production.
This Harlem Postcard is by Expanding the Walls 2022 participant Omar Lashin. Expanding the Walls: Making Connections Between Photography, History, and Community is an eight-month photography-based program for a select group of students enrolled in a high school or GED program.
When tasked with taking a picture for Harlem Postcards, I struggled more than I’d anticipated. I went to school in East Harlem for four years and shot every nook and cranny of the neighborhood. Yet, I couldn’t find a satisfactory shot. Then, I stopped overthinking it and looked at Harlem for what it was: a bustling, hardworking, and rambunctious neighborhood. I wanted to capture that hustle through my photo of the M Lugo Flat Fix Tire Shop on 255 East 125th Street.
As a kid, when I first started going to Harlem from the South Bronx, I’d always pass by this tire shop. It stands almost right where you enter Manhattan from the Bronx. Every time my father drove me to school, I’d peer at the shop’s continuous racks of tires and eye-catching signs carrying bolded red letters that read “Flat Fixed” on top of bright yellow backgrounds. It’s a place I associate with Harlem. The photo itself has a grainy, vintage feel because I wanted to highlight the longevity and experience of the business, and how successful it has been since its founding in 2001. It’s an honor to photograph a business that contributes to the community of Harlem, embodying the themes of hard work and hustle that are so important to the neighborhood.