Deborah Willis, PhD, is chair of the Department of Photography and Imaging at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. She was a 2005 Guggenheim Fellow and Fletcher Fellow, and a 2000 MacArthur Fellow.
Exhibitions of her work include A Sense of Place, Frick, University of Pittsburgh, 2005; Regarding Beauty, University of Wisconsin, 2003; Embracing Eatonville, Light Works, Syracuse, NY, 2003-2004; Hair Stories, Scottsdale Contemporary Art Museum, Scottsdale, AZ, 2003-2004; The Comforts of Home, Hand Workshop Art Center, Richmond, VA, 1999; and Re/Righting History: Counter Narratives by Contemporary African-American Artists, Katonah Museum of Art, 1999.
Her curated exhibitions include Posing Beauty, which opened at Tisch in fall 2009; 1968: Then and Now at Tisch and at the Nathan Cummings Foundation in fall 2008; and Engulfed by Katrina: Photographs Before and After the Storm, Nathan Cummings Foundation.
Her recent publications include Posing Beauty: African American Images from the 1890s to the Present (WW Norton, 2009), Michelle Obama: The First Lady in Photographs (WW Norton, 2009), and Black Venus 2010: They Called Her “Hottentot” (Temple University Press, 2010).
Abstract: Willis’ talk will address the black body in photography, print, video and presented in exhibition spaces. Central to her discussion will be a focus on how the display of the black body affects how we see and interpret the world. Using a selection of photographs by Hank Willis Thomas, Carrie Mae Weems, Bruce Davidson, Gordon Parks, Lorna Simpson and Mickalene Thomas, among others, she will consider the construction of beauty and style, gendered images, and race in pop culture. In doing so she hopes to engage in a discussion with the student body about ways in which our contemporary understanding of art, history and culture is constructed and informed by public display in museums, text and the global landscape.
This Provost’s Lecture, co-sponsored by Africana Studies, College of Arts and Sciences, Humanities Institute, European Languages, Cultural Analysis and Theory, and Art Department will be held on Thursday, February 21, at 4 pm in the Charles B. Wang Center Theater.