Celebrating life on the streets of the Bronx

Celebrating life on the streets of the Bronx
Curated by photographer Rhynna M. Santos, 'Everyday Bronx' captures heart and soul of the borough where hip-hop was born.

Documentary photographer and curator Rhynna M. Santos grew up with deep ties to her community. As the daughter of New York Latin jazz legend Ray Santos, she dedicated her first long-term photography project to chronicling her father – and in doing so reconnected with her roots.

“He was a fixture in the Bronx and became my entrée to portraying the everyday life of people there,” says Santos, the founder of the Bronx Women’s Photo Collective and curator for the Instagram feed Everyday Bronx – a member of the beloved global platform Everyday Projects.

Credit: E. Gordon Berroa, 2015.

“When I first started, the hashtag #bronx, or anything affiliated with the Bronx, was used to describe any abject thing. I knew I had to do something to change that,” says Santos. “I wanted to create a digital archive of life in the Bronx that can continue to grow, and a space where Bronxites could be in conversation with each other.”

Showcasing work exclusively from followers, Everyday Bronx tells the story from the inside out, showing the world exactly why the people of this tiny borough transformed the course of world history. Now Santos brings her vision to life with the new exhibition, Everyday Bronx, now on view at the Bronx Documentary Center (BDC).

Top to bottom: Credit: Instagram user @mybronxtale, 2018. Credit: Rhynna M. Santos, 2017. Credit: Bianca Farrow, 2016. Credit: Jon Santiago, 2016.

Santos reviewed almost 7,000 images with BDC curator Cynthia Rivera to select nearly 350 photographs and video displays for the show, much of it made on mobile phones. At first the file sizes presented a challenge but in true Bronx style, Santos drew inspiration where others might find defeat.

“We leaned into the pixelation!” she says. “This is an online digital archive that is seen on screens, so we wanted to reflect that in how the exhibition is experienced.”

Striking the perfect balance between the way we engage with photography in both digital and physical realms, the exhibition features a captivating blend of 144 prints and 200 projected slides that celebrate the extraordinary people and goings on that make the Bronx what it is.

Everyday Bronx is a full circle moment for Santos, who has collaborated with the BDC in numerous capacities since 2013. “When thinking of where to have this exhibition, the BDC was the perfect place,” she says. “It is in the South Bronx, promotes documentary photography and a place for the community to see art.”

Top to bottom: Credit: Heriberto Sanchez, 2022. Credit: Instagram user @vassilicool for Wendell Foster Bikepark, 2015. Credit: Rhynna M. Santos, 2018. Credit: Rhynna M. Santos, 2014.

With this exhibition, Santos pays homage to the community that raised her and embraced her, its inimitable blend of strength and sabor (“flavour”) an unbroken thread connecting people from one generation to the next. “The Bronx has been a constant stream of inspiration for my work,” says Santos, who includes a few of her classic street photographs in the show.

Whether catching a couple of young men checking out a sizeable turtle as it strolls confidently down the street, finishing off a fresh fade in the barber shop, or just kicking it in the local pizza spot, Everyday Bronx captures heart and soul of the borough where hip-hop was born.

Credit: Michael Young, 2018.

Everyday Bronx is on view through May 14 2023, at the Bronx Documentary Center in New York.

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