City Vernacular

A non-linear photographic poem, created by the City of New York

Everyday we are bombarded by the words in the city. How do they affect us? Do they guide our actions, do they bless our pathways?

The words presented here were found in bus shelters, on subway platforms, in fancy midtown restaurants, in scrawled directions on urban walls. They cajole, advise, inform, respnd to us from every corner of the city.

All content here is photography taken by Sharilyn Neidhardt. Please do not use these images or mechanisms without explicit permission. Explore more "Vernacular" images at my flickr site.

About the City Vernacular project

The City Vernacular project was born out of a blend of hyperattentiveness and boredom.

In 2005, artist Sharilyn Neidhardt was working as a photo editor for the New York Post. The paper issued her a camera and she started snapping photos on her lunch break, running quotidian errands, during nights out on the town. Eventually she began to notice the prevalance of words in the visual warp and weft of the cityscape.

Ms Neidhardt began to isolate and photograph just single words in the cityscape. She began a flickr group and asked for the contributions of other photographers. Rules for photo submission include:

  1. Only one word in the photo.
  2. Must be in public view/in plain sight
  3. No photo manipulation other than resizing.

Sharilyn eventually made cards out of the photographs and presented the project at Conflux 08 in 2011. She used the cards to 'tell creative fortunes' for conflux participants. She has since performed readings at many other art events, including most recently as a part of Abby Goodman's The Wishing Tree at Brooklyn Arts Council.

Sharilyn continues to iterate the words in the collection and the cards. You can keep up with the project on flickr. She will be leading an excursion to collect more word photographs in Brooklyn, NY on Oct 19 2013 as a part of Conflux 10. For more information, reach out to Sharilyn Neidhardt. She loves getting email