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Reframing "Black is Beautiful" Lecture Examines Relationship Between Beauty, Politics and Black Culture

For Immediate Release

October 14, 2013

Media Contact:
Audrey Arthur
Spelman College
Twitter: @spelmanmedia


The Spelman College Museum of Fine Art, in partnership with the Spelman College Ida B. Wells-Barnett Distinguished Lecture Series and Atlanta Celebrates Photography, presents the lecture Reframing "Black is Beautiful," with Deborah Willis, Ph.D., chair and professor of Photography and Imaging at Tisch School of the Arts, New York University. Dr. Willis will lead a conversation examining and challenging conventional perspectives on identity, beauty, cosmopolitan, and community in Africa and the African Diaspora. She will also examine the relationship between beauty and politics and how such topics have shaped a new understanding of reading Black culture from the antebellum period to the present. Dr. Willis is curator of the exhibition "Posing Beauty in African American Culture," on view at the Spelman College Museum of Fine Art through December 7, 2013.

The lecture, free and open to the public, will be followed by a book signing. For more information, call (404) 270-5607.


Deborah Willis, Ph.D., is one of the nation's leading historians of African-American photography and curators of African-American culture.  In addition to chairing the Department of Photography & Imaging at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University, she has an affiliated appointment as a university professor with the College of Arts and Sciences, Africana Studies. Dr. Willis was a Guggenheim Fellow, a Fletcher Fellow, and a MacArthur Fellow.

Dr. Willis is the author of "Reflections In Black: A History of Black Photographers - 1840 to the Present" and "Let Your Motto Be Resistance." Her book "Michelle Obama: The First Lady in Photographs" received the 2010 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work—Biography/Autobiography. She has exhibited her photographs at the Zora Neale Hurston Museum in Eatonville, Fla. and just released two books: a co-authored book entitled "Envisioning Emancipation: Black Americans and the End of Slavery," published by Temple University Press, and "Out [o] Fashion Photography: Embracing Beauty," published by the Henry Art Gallery, University of Washington Press.

Thursday, Oct. 17, 7 p.m.
Spelman College
Cosby Academic Center Auditorium
350 Spelman Lane SW
Atlanta 30314

Organized by the Spelman College Teaching Resource and Research Center, The Ida B. Wells-Barnett Distinguished Lecture Series, supported by President Beverly Daniel Tatum, Ph.D., and the Andrew Mellon Foundation, was established to promote interdisciplinarity as a core value of the College. The Series is named for the intellectual, writer and activist Ida B. Wells-Barnett who used multiple analytical languages to confront the politics of the Black body as well as the complexities of full citizenship for Black women and men.

Now in its second year, the 2013-2014 theme for the lecture series is "Black (W)holes and Geometry: The Politics of Black Women's Bodies," which is inspired by a 1994 article written by Evelynn Hammonds, Ph.D., the Barbara Gutmann Rosenkrantz Professor of History of Science and African American Studies at Harvard University.

About Spelman College

Founded in 1881, Spelman College is a highly selective, liberal arts college widely recognized as the global leader in the education of women of African descent. Located in Atlanta, Ga., the College’s picturesque campus is home to 2,100 students. Outstanding alumnae include Children's Defense Fund Founder Marian Wright Edelman; Sam’s Club CEO Rosalind Brewer, Broadway Producer Alia Jones, Former Acting Surgeon General and Spelman’s first alumna President Audrey Forbes Manley, Harvard University Professor Evelynn Hammonds, Author Pearl Cleage and Actress LaTanya Richardson Jackson. For more information, visit www.spelman.edu.

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