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Naima J. Keith Awarded David C. Driskell Prize

March 2017

Spelman Alumna Naima Keith Receives Driskell AwardCurator and arts administrator Naima J. Keith, C’2003, is the 2017 recipient of the High Museum of Art’s David C. Driskell Prize in African American Art and Art History. She will be honored at the 13th annual Driskell Prize Dinner at the Atlanta museum on Friday, April 28. Named for the renowned African-American artist and scholar, the Driskell Prize is the first national award to celebrate a scholar or artist whose work makes an important contribution to the field of art of the African Diaspora.

“The level of passion and dedication Naima has applied to providing a platform for contemporary African American artists is extraordinary,” said Rand Suffolk, Nancy and Holcombe T. Green, Jr., director of the High. “We are proud to welcome her among the impressive group of past Driskell Prize recipients and to support her work, which has introduced audiences to important artists of our time and will continue to make a significant impact in years to come.”

An Advocate for Cultural Diversity in the Museum Field

Keith’s exhibitions have explored the intersections of race, class, gender, and socioeconomic policy, focusing on artists who have been underrepresented in the museum field. In 2016, she was named the first deputy director of exhibitions and programs at the California African American Museum, where she directs the development and growth of the permanent collection, exhibitions program and the museum’s research and scholarship. Prior to that, she served as an associate curator at the Studio Museum in Harlem, and as a curatorial fellow at the Hammer Museum in her hometown of Los Angeles.

A Longtime Supporter and Lover of the Arts

Art has always been Keith's passion. Before becoming an art history major at Spelman, she was influenced by her parents and their collection of African-American art as well as the many trips to she made to view museum exhibits. After graduating from Spelman College in 2003 with a B.A. in Art History, Keith attended the University of California, Los Angeles and earned her M.A. in Art History in 2005. 

From there, Keith became a Curatorial Fellow at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles where she worked closely with curator Kellie Jones on the exhibition, "Now Dig This! Art and Black Los Angeles 1960-1980." In 2011, Keith joined the Studio Museum in Harlem as associate curator. In this role, she organized exhibitions, publications and artist-in-residence programs. In 2016, Keith was appointed as the first deputy director of exhibitions and programs at the California African American Museum, and is responsible for directing the development and growth of the permanent collection, a dynamic exhibitions program and the Museum’s research and scholarship.

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