Department of Cultural Affairs NYCulture City of New York Department of Cultural Affairs NYCulture City of New York

Percent for Art

   Charles Searles

Cultural Harmony, Mixed media, 1990

    See also: Freedom's Gate

Cultural Harmony

Completion Date:



Mixed media




Oberia D. Dempsey Multi-Service Center of Central Harlem


127 West 127th Street, Manhattan



Sponsor Agency:

Human Resources Administration

Design Agency:

Department of General Services

Cultural Harmony consists of four relief sculptures-abstract amalgams of straight lines, bows, and voids-mounted on the walls of the Center's auditorium. According to Searles, these richly colored sculptures are inspired by the artwork of many cultures, including African, Native American, Asian, and Caribbean. "Knowing that the artwork would touch many people, I wanted to represent many cultural backgrounds as well as project a positive feeling of living energy that would hopefully leave the audience with a good feeling," Searles said.

About the Artist...
Born in Philadelphia, and living in New York since 1978, Charles Searles received his undergraduate education at the University of Pennsylvania and his art education at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, graduating with honors. He has traveled and exhibited in Europe, Africa, and the Caribbean. Searles has been on many public art panels, taught art workshops, and is currently teaching at Pratt. His former teaching experiences include Jersey City State College, Bloomfield College, and the University of The Arts in Philadelphia, where he taught for nineteen years. Searles is involved with sculpture, painting, and drawing. He has completed seven public commissions and is currently beginning his eighth commission for Long Island Rail Road in New York.

Artist Quote...
My works are primarily boldly painted wood sculptures which are free-standing or hang on a wall. I use flat planes as well as curved surfaces and, although the forms are constantly changing, some things are often used such as ovular holes in the sculpture (which, for me, suggest eyes.) The pieces have been said to convey masks, dancers, music, or rhythms. They also have a strong cultural identity that has been called African, Asian, Native American, Caribbean, and more. Therefore, I entitled the four sculptures at the Dempsey Center Cultural Harmony. -- Searles, 1990