As an artist, author and curator Deborah Willis’s art and pioneering research has focused on cultural histories envisioning the black body, women and gender. She is a celebrated photographer, acclaimed historian of photography, MacArthur and Guggenheim Fellow, and University Professor and Chair of the Department of Photography & Imaging at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University.*
Willis received the NAACP Image Award in 2014 for her co-authored book Envisioning Emancipation: Black Americans and the End of Slavery (with Barbara Krauthamer) and in 2015 for the documentary Through a Lens Darkly, inspired by her book Reflections in Black: A History of Black Photographers 1840 to the Present.*
A historian of photography and a photographer, Deborah Willis brings an artist’s sensibility to her scholarly and curatorial work. She has written monographs on J. P. Ball, the nineteenth-century daguerreotypist, and James Van Der Zee, a twentieth-century chronicler of Harlem. Her other research focuses on contemporary African-American photographers. Willis has curated numerous major exhibits, including the Smithsonian exhibition Reflections in Black: A History of Black Photographers, 1840 to the Present (2000), which unites vintage images by masters from the nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries with the work of contemporary figures.
Link to video discussing Posing Beauty in African American Culture. Click here.
Her many books include Picturing Us: African-American Identity in Photography (1994), Harlem Renaissance: Art of Black America (1994, co-authored), Visual Journal: Harlem and DC in the ’30s and ’40s (1996, co-authored), A Small Nation of People: W. E. B. DuBois Portraits of Progress (2003, co-authored), and Family History Memory: Recording African American Life (2005).**
*Deborah Willis’ s Website: https://debwillisphoto.com/home.html
Publications are found here: https://debwillisphoto.com/section/142075-Publications.html
Images are not my own. https://tisch.nyu.edu/about/directory/photo/95947945, https://www.vogue.com/slideshow/deborah-willis-photographs#2, https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/27/deborah-willis-posing-beauty-exhibit_n_983839.html
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I’m Kymberli. Anything that inspires me, I write about it. I am a wife and mother of two who enjoys learning, writing, art and history. This hobby of mine has grown into something much more and I am enjoying the journey. Thank you for allowing me to share my journey with you.