Byzantine Bembé

New York by Manny Vega

Through December 8, 2024

A mosaic of a woman with a red skirt.

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The experience of walking El Barrio—the Museum of the City of New York’s own neighborhood—would be vastly different without the artworks of Manny Vega (b. Bronx, 1956). His mosaics and murals adorn street walls, subway stations, cultural centers, and business facades throughout East Harlem. Many of these works celebrate important figures—particularly women—in the history of the Puerto Rican and Latinx communities. Vega has proven himself deft at negotiating the sophisticated tastes and appetite for spectacle of an extremely diverse and fast-moving population. His style has been dubbed “Byzantine Hip-Hop” for his uncompromising technical command that encompasses ancient Mediterranean mosaic-making and the electrifying lines of hyper-detailed Sharpie pen-and-ink drawings.  

As part of the Museum’s centennial year celebration, Byzantine Bembé: New York by Manny Vega explores Vega's visual storytelling as it interweaves community stories with themes that range from African deities to urban mythologies, spanning the personal and the collective. Deeply rooted in an idiosyncratic understanding of the diaspora experience, which in his case includes communities in El Bronx, El Barrio, and Bahia, Brazil, Vega’s worldview is colorful, danceable, passionately spiritual, and complex-yet-accessible. The show marks the Museum’s commitment to its thriving neighborhood as it looks ahead to its next one hundred years.  

Manny Vega. Bomba Celestial. 2009–2010. Collection of Bobbito García a.k.a. Kool Bob Love. Courtesy of Manny Vega


Byzantine Bembé: New York by Manny Vega is made possible in part by the Mellon Foundation, Basha Rubin and Scott Grinsell, and Kathleen Benson Haskins. Additional support provided by a collective of generous individuals in celebration of Manny Vega's work.

Meet the Team

Meet the Team:

Monxo López, Curator
Tracy McFarlan, Associate Director of Curatorial Projects
Elizabeth Indek, Curatorial Projects Associate
Gabriela Senno, Curatorial Projects Administrative Assistant

Hanz Li, Visual/Graphic Designer

Leela Outcalt, Director of Collections
Sheryl McMahan, Registrar  
Riley McBride, Assistant
Registrar Elizabeth Randolph, Collections Manager for Costume and Textiles
Christina Chavez, Associate Collections Manager
David Lurvey, Digital Imaging Specialist

Fabrication, and Installation:
Todd Ludlam, Director of Exhibitions Installation  
Nancy Nicholson, Manager of Exhibition Installation
Julius Erwin Quito, Director of Information Technology
Jake LaMalfa, Manager of Information Technology

Video Production:
Madeline McLaughlin, Digital Producer
Heather DiPietro, Associate Producer
Felix Panzarella, Director of Photography
Steve Franchek, 1st AC
Will Mustin, Video Editor

Fabrication by Maquette Fine Art Services

Gallery Preparation and Painting by Williams Brothers

Lighting Design and Installation by Technical Artistry

Full Point Graphics
Creative Graphic Services

Framing and Mounting:
Kate McKenzie
Object Mounts

Art Handling:
Kels Lyn
Mike Piergrossi

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