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Exploring Virtual Village Voices Part 1: Abbot, Auden, & Baldwin

In 2021 and 2022, Village Preservation developed an innovative outdoor public art exhibition, VILLAGE VOICES. Exhibits throughout Greenwich Village, the East Village, and NoHo featured photographs, artifacts, and soundscape recordings to celebrate and honor the artistic, social, political, and cultural movements of our neighborhoods and the people who gave them voice. 

We have now made these exhibits available online. Today we explore the first three of our 31 exhibits: Berenice Abbot, W.H. Auden, and James Baldwin.

Berenice Abbot

Photographer Berenice Abbott first arrived in Greenwich Village in 1918 at 20 years old and quickly fell in with the artists, dancers, poets, and other intellectuals who lived and worked in Greenwich Village. After a period spent in Paris, she returned to New York and in 1934, she began teaching photography at The New School for Social Research. She documented the changing face of New York City in a rich time capsule of urban life and design. Her exhibit was located at 41 Commerce Street, where she lived and worked with her partner, the influential art critic Elizabeth McCausland, from 1935 to 1965.

Berenice Abbot shadowbox designed by Penny Hardy, PS New York

Click here to read more about Berenice Abbot.

The audio is narrated by photographer Jessica Craig-Martin, event photographer for publications like The New Yorker, Vanity Fair and Vogue, and whose work is in the collections of The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; The New Museum, New York, and The Guggenheim Museum, New York, among other public and private collections. 

W.H. Auden

Beloved Anglo-American writer and one of civilization’s most lucid and luminous poets, Auden wrote with unflinching honesty of the human spirit and the follies of the modern world. “A disheveled poet who crafted verse of exquisite order,” he lived in squalor at 77 St. Mark’s Place between First and Second Avenues from from 1953 until 1972.

W.H. Auden shadowbox designed by Penny Hardy, PS New York

The audio is narrated by actor, singer, dancer, photographer, and theatre director Joel Gray. He has won an Academy Award, a BAFTA Award, a Golden Globe Award, a Tony Award, and a Lifetime Achievement Tony Award.

Click here to read more about W.H. Auden.

James Baldwin

Through his writing, televised debates, and public speaking across the globe, author and activist James Baldwin was a vital voice for the civil rights movement. He was part of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and the 1965 Selma-to-Montgomery voting rights march. This VILLAGE VOICES exhibit was installed at 81 Horatio Street, where Baldwin lived from 1958 to 1961 while working on the novel Another Country. For many years before and after that, he frequented and drew inspiration and comradery from many of the literary and bohemian clubs and cafes of Greenwich Village.

James Baldwin shadowbox designed by Penny Hardy, PS New York

This audio is narrated by Derek Morris, a longtime Greenwich Village resident. As a student at Wesleyan in the early 1980s, Morris asked James Baldwin to come and speak at the school, which was a transformative moment for Derek and many fellow students. 

Click here to read more about James Baldwin

Click here to access all 31 village voices exhibits and audio.

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