My Harry: Stories, Songs, and Strings

Sat, Dec 9, 2023
11 am–6 pm

Floor 3, Education Center, Theater

As part of My Harry, a mini-festival celebrating the artist and his diverse pursuits, visitors of all ages are invited to a day of musical performances, games, interactive workshops, and storytelling. 


11 am 
Singing Circle with Ali Dineen

Join folk singer and educator Ali Dineen for an intergenerational singing circle. Raise your voice in song as Dineen leads us through pieces from the Anthology of American Folk Music as well as familiar tunes by songwriters influenced by Smith’s collection.

11 am–3 pm
Stop Motion Animation Studio and Paper Airplane Workshop 

Stop Motion Animation Studio: get inspired by Harry Smith’s innovative films and turn your own collage into a stop motion animation! 

Paper Airplane Workshop: design and make your own paper airplane, one of the artforms that Harry Smith loved to collect, in a workshop hosted by artist Bradley Eros.

12 pm
Peter Stampfel and The Atomic Meta-Pagan Posse

Listen to fiddles, mandolins, and stories from folk music legend and Harry Smith friend Peter Stampfel who appears with his band The Atomic Meta-Pagan Posse, including Eli Smith, Zoe Stampfel, Eli Hetko, Steve Espinola, Paul Nowinski, Sam Werbalowsky, Heather Wagner, and Dok Gregory.

2 pm
Paper Airplane Contest with Bradley Eros

Come one, come all and enter the first ever Whitney Museum Paper Airplane contest! Artist and paper airplane aficionado Bradley Eros awards prizes in a variety of innovative categories including biggest plane, smallest plane, longest flight, strangest design, and more.

3 pm
String Figure Workshop with James Inoli Murphy

Harry Smith was fascinated by string figures from cultures around the world, collecting and studying them throughout his life. String figures are made by weaving a loop of string into geometric shapes and patterns with hands and fingers. In this workshop, Murphy, who knew Harry Smith, demonstrates the art of string figures and teaches participants how to start learning with string. 

5 pm
On Mahagonny: A Presentation by Rani Singh 

Rani Singh, Director of the Harry Smith Archives and co-curator of Fragments of a Faith Forgotten: The Art of Harry Smith, shares the story of how Smith’s epic film Mahagonny was created as a four-screen 16mm projection, how it came to be preserved on 35mm film and in the stunning new 4k restoration. Interviews with film scholar P. Adams Sitney, Patti Smith, who appears in the film, cameraman Patrick Hulsey, and more will be screened, and Scott Feero, Charles Compo, and Simon Lund join Singh for a conversation.


Charles Compo is a painter and musician who met Harry Smith in 1979. He has published over 100 musical compositions including “Seven Flute Solos,” published by Smithsonian Folkways.

Ali Dineen is a songwriter, visual artist and teacher born and raised in Queens. Dineen is also the music director for local puppet troupe extraordinaire The Boxcutter Collective. Dineen arranges music and sings with Reverend Billy & the Stop Shopping Choir, and is part of a duet with the inimitable Feral Foster. 

Bradley Eros is a mediamystic maverick, who prefers the night and the perfume of eau de cinema. He is an artist-catalyst actively involved in diverse aspects of the New York underground, working across media including experimental film and video, collage, photography, poetry, performance, sound, text, installation, expanded and contracted cinema. 

Scott Feero met Harry Smith at the March 1980 screening of Film No. 18: Mahagonny. He is the author of the novel Dressing Stone and is currently at work on two Smith publications, Harry Smith: The Alchemy of Caprice and Guide for the Perplexed: A Timeline of the Life and Work of Harry Smith.

Simon Lund is the Director of Technical Operations at Cineric, the film restoration company that reformatted Mahagonny in 2002. He has worked on a number of Harry Smith films including Mahagonny, Heaven and Earth Magic, Mirror Animations and Early Abstractions.

James Inoli Murphy has served New York City public schools as a teacher and principal and the city’s Native American communities as a tribal elder. The string figures of Indigenous peoples have been the foundation of Murphy’s lessons. Through active play with strings, students develop the ability to learn anything. He has taught string figures to tens of thousands of students. 

Rani Singh is the Director of the Harry Smith Archives, an art consultant, and archivist. Co-curator of Fragments of a Faith Forgotten: The Art of Harry Smith, Singh is based in Santa Monica, California.

Peter Stampfel was born in Milwaukee. In 1959, he arrived in New York’s Lower East Side (LES), where he and his friends formed the first LES band, the Strict Temporence String Band of Lower Delancey Street. In 1964 he formed the second LES band, the Holy Modal Rounders, and the same year joined the third LES band, the Fugs. (The Velvet Underground was the fourth LES band.) He has since made over forty albums, gathering much acclaim and very little money. But he does keep getting better, which at eighty-five is a damn fine trick.

This program is organized by Andrew Lampert, independent curator and co-author of Paper Airplanes: The Collections of Harry Smith Catalogue Raisonné, Volume I and String Figures: The Collections of Harry Smith Catalogue Raisonné, Volume II.  

The Hearst Artspace and the Seminar Room are equipped with induction hearing loops and infrared assistive listening systems. Accessible seating is also available.

The Susan and John Hess Family Theater is equipped with an induction loop and infrared assistive listening system. Accessible seating is available.

Learn more about access services and programs.