BAHM | 2.23.18 | Deborah Willis
Deborah Willis is an artist, curator and leading art historian of African American photography and culture. She is currently Professor of Photography and Africana Studies and Chair of the Department of Photography at Tisch School of the Arts at NYU. She has previously held positions as a Exhibitions Coordinator and Curator of Photographs an Prints at the New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and Exhibitions Curator at the Smithsonian’s Center for African American History and Culture. Willis has received numerous awards, including Guggenheim, Fletcher, and MacArthur fellowships and the Infinity Award in Writing from the International Center for Photography. She has authored some twenty books on black photographic history and visual culture, and co-produced the documentary film, Through a Lens Darkly: Black Photographers and the Emergence of a People, based on her book Reflections in Black: A History of Black Photographers 1840 to the Present.
In 2009, Willis curated Posing Beauty in African American Culture, a traveling exhibition that was first featured at the Tisch School of the Arts, NYU. The exhibition, which was based on her book, Posing Beauty: African American Images from the 1890's to the Present, featured the work of Gordon Parks, Lyle Ashton Harris, Hank Willis Thomas (Willis' son), Mickalene Thomas, and Carrie Mae Weems, to name a few. The exhibition traced the ways that African American beauty has been represented historically and in a contemporary context, through photography, film, fashion, music, advertising, and other popular media.