Reframing Beauty: Intimate Visions:

Presented by Deborah Willis, PhD

Wednesday, July 26 | 6 pm
Free for members; $5 for non-members

Reframing Beauty: Intimate Visions 
Presented by Deborah Willis, PhD

This lecture will focus on artists and photographers who are looking at the past, recreating portraits through the camera’s lens while others are re-staging beauty as a performative act. The tension explored in this lecture is found in the works that ask questions of the unknown viewer that confront the work through a wide range of media from film, video, painting, sculpture, installation art and mixed media. They explore gender and desire; humor and apathy; child games and toys and play with the imaginary through dreaming and projecting. Some use their own photographs and archival references to incorporate stories about beauty and social politics about injustices. These works focus on the notion of individuality and what comes together is a collective pursuit of the idea of “framing beauty” in a complex society. How does one re-image and re-imagine a history of beauty through satire and sincerity as a result of absence is critical to the questioning of beauty. One of my most powerful experiences as a curator is discovering artists who embrace the broad concept of memory to explore the complexities of life, from making visible stories of activism to transforming everyday experiences to dreaming through aspects of beauty.

Deborah Willis, Ph.D, is University Professor and Chair of the Department of Photography & Imaging at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University and has an affiliated appointment with the College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Social & Cultural, Africana Studies, where she teaches courses on photography and imaging, iconicity, and cultural histories visualizing the black body, women, and gender. Her research examines photography’s multifaceted histories, visual culture, the photographic history of Slavery and Emancipation, contemporary women photographers and beauty.  She received the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellowship and was a Richard D. Cohen Fellow in African and African American Art, Hutchins Center, Harvard University and a John Simon Guggenheim Fellow. Professor Willis received the NAACP Image Award in 2014 for her co-authored book (with Barbara Krauthamer) Envisioning Emancipation. Other notable projects include The Black Female Body A Photographic History, Reflections in Black: A History of Black Photographers – 1840 to the Present, Posing Beauty: African American Images from the 1890s to the Present, Michelle Obama: The First Lady in Photographs, a NAACP Image Award Literature Winner, and Black Venus 2010: They Called Her ‘Hottentot’.


*This program is funded in part by Oklahoma Humanities (OH) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this lecture do not necessarily represent those of OH or NEH.

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