Deborah Willis, Ph.D, is the Chair of the Department of Photography & Imaging at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University and has an affiliated appointment as a University Professor with the College of Arts and Sciences, Africana Studies. She was a 2005 Guggenheim Fellow and Fletcher Fellow, and a 2000 MacArthur Fellow, as well as the 1996 recipient of the Anonymous Was a Woman Foundation award. She has pursued a dual professional career as an art photographer and as one of the nation's leading historians of African American photography and curator of African American culture. Professor Willis has just received the honored educator award at the Society for Photographic Education.
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, 2003-4; HairStories, Scottsdale Contemporary Art Museum, Scottsdale, AZ 2003-4; The Comforts of Home, Hand Workshop Art Center, Richmond, VA, 1999; Re/Righting History: Counternarratives by Contemporary African-American Artists, Katonah Museum of Art, 1999; Memorable Histories and Historic Memories, Bowdoin College Museum of Art, 1998; Cultural Baggage, Rice University, Houston, TX, 1995.
Her curated Exhibitions include: Posing Beauty, Let Your Motto Be Resistance: African American Portraits, Engulfed by Katrina: Photographs before and After the Storm, and Imagining Families—Images and Voices and Reflections in Black. Other notable projects include The Black Female Body A Photographic History with Carla Williams (Temple University Press, Philadephia, 2002); A Small Nation of People: W.E.B. DuBois and the Photographs from the Paris Exposition (Amistad Press, 2003); Reflections in Black: A History of Black Photographers - 1840 to the Present (New York: W.W. Norton); Her more 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 NAACP Image Award Literature Winner), and Black Venus 2010: They Called Her "Hottentot" (Temple University Press, 2010).
Dr. Willis will be lecturing about the work of the late Gordon Parks, whose work is on display in the York College Galleries from October 4 – November 15. Willis has said that she always considered herself a spiritual daughter of Gordon Parks and viewed him as a mentor all of her professional life.