Inside Out

Photographs by Sally Davies

March 14, 2024 - May 15, 2024


The Municipal Art Society of New York (MAS) is pleased to present a collection of work by photographer Sally Davies. “Inside Out” encapsulates the complex essence of New York City, delving into our relationship with the built environment, both externally and internally. The first half of the collection captures urban street life set against the gritty yet vibrant facades of the East Village, sparking curiosity about the inner lives behind those doors. With a seamless transition, the second half of the collection explores the intimate world within, revealing the diverse and vibrant lives led by New Yorkers. “Inside Out” uniquely explores the city, offering glimpses into personal spaces and narratives behind closed doors, skillfully capturing the intersection of exterior urbanity and the rich interiors that define New York City.

Sally Davies. Photo: Linda Heidinger.

Artist Statement

I spent the first 7 years of my life growing up in rural Canada in an existential crisis – aware that I was not like other people. I was 6 years old and already planning my get-a-way. Walking 2 miles to school, 5 days a week in 35 below zero, I wondered how far I would get if I made a run for it. Somewhere around my 12th birthday I had the revelation that no one was like anyone. That epiphany got me through a few more years there.

My father gave me a camera when I was 15 and I took to it straight away. I started taking pictures then and have never stopped really. I started shooting the streets of NYC long before I knew what a Street Photographer even was. I’m not interested in a big event. I’m looking for a glimpse of the everyday… for the tiniest slice of the giant pie. There is mystery in the familiar, if you keep going back.

I am sometimes surprised at who follows my photography. It cuts a wide swath, and doesn’t seem to favor a financial bracket, any gender or an age group. In those ways I feel my work succeeds. I don’t tend to attract gray area people. I think I can safely say that collectors don’t buy my work because it matches their sofa. You either fall in love with moonlight on a garbage bag or you don’t, and you keep moving. History decides on our legacies, not us, but I do hope when I die, that my work makes some kind of sense, that it not only documents a certain place and cultural time, but also tells my story.

In the spring of 2019, I wanted to switch things up and dive into something altogether different than my street work. It was time to show the world who lived inside the buildings I had been documenting for so many years. The idea of home is such a huge part of our psyche. Hopefully, it’s where we feel safe and comfortable. Like the old saying goes: “Home is where our stuff is.” The project was a mix of mostly total strangers with a few people I knew thrown in. The goal was to represent our crazy melting pot without a personal agenda. I wanted New Yorkers to tell its own story. I felt that randomness really represented life in Gotham. People’s income was reflected in their spaces and what they could afford to collect, but the emotional connection to their stuff felt the same no matter where or how they lived. I did not style anything. Some people got dolled up and others answered the door in their pajamas. All that was their decision.

The point of the New Yorkers portraits was to reveal people in their homes, as they really live, as truthfully as a photograph will allow.

About the Artist

Sally Davies is a photographer whose works are in the permanent collection at the Museum of the City of New York and the NYC 9/11 Memorial Museum. She is the author of two photo books; “New Yorkers” and “California Dreamers” (Ammonite Publishing UK) and also of the acclaimed McDonalds Happy Meal Project (1.75 million online hits). Her archive is now part of the Downtown Collection of Fales Library at NYU, and her photographs have been featured in the New York Times, The Guardian, The New York Post, the UK Daily Mail, PDN online, Huffington Post and Photolife Magazine.

In 2014 Sally’s “Lower East Side Photographs” were exhibited at the Bernarducci Meisel Gallery in New York City, with a 2nd solo exhibit of large scale photos, “New York at Night” that followed on June 4, 2015. Sally has exhibited twice at the Museum of the City of New York; In 2020 her street photography was included in “From Stuyvesant to Sid Vicious,” and in 2023 her New Yorkers at home portraits were included in “New York Now: Home.”

In 2014 Sally received a citation from the city of New York for her ongoing commitment to photographing the Lower East Side.

She took Allen Ginsberg’s old apartment when she moved from Canada to New York in 1983, and she still lives in New York City with her dog Bun.

To see more of Sally’s work, visit

Photo 1 of 20
East 2nd Street Caddy at Ginsbergs, January 2019. © Sally Davies.
Photo 2 of 20
East 6th Street Synagogue, March 2014. © Sally Davies.
Photo 3 of 20
East 7th Street, September 2020. © Sally Davies.
Photo 4 of 20
Psychic 101 Delancy Street, February 2012. © Sally Davies.
Photo 5 of 20
172 Rivington Street, January 2019. © Sally Davies.
Photo 6 of 20
Stanton Street, January 2019. © Sally Davies.
Photo 7 of 20
East 4th Street, October 2015. © Sally Davies.
Photo 8 of 20
Stanton Street, February 2012. © Sally Davies.
Photo 9 of 20
Rearview East 5th Street, September 2018. © Sally Davies.
Photo 10 of 20
Jacquie Tellalian, November, 2019. © Sally Davies.
Photo 11 of 20
Flloyd, October 2019. © Sally Davies.
Photo 12 of 20
Beatrice Moritz, October 2019. © Sally Davies.
Photo 13 of 20
Cressa Turner, November 2019. © Sally Davies.
Photo 14 of 20
Mehai Bakaty, September 2019. © Sally Davies.
Photo 15 of 20
Iris Rose, June 2019. © Sally Davies.
Photo 16 of 20
Gerald DeCock, November 2019. © Sally Davies.
Photo 17 of 20
Liz Duffy Adams, April 2019. © Sally Davies.
Photo 18 of 20
Michael McMahon, April 2019. © Sally Davies.
Photo 19 of 20
Sylvia Maier, October 2019. © Sally Davies.
Photo 20 of 20
X. Baczewski, May 2019. © Sally Davies.