Selected Works

Untitled, 1954

Press Release

Bloomington, IN – The Grunwald Gallery at Indiana University Bloomington is pleased to present Framing Beauty: Intimate Visions, an exhibit guest-curated by Professor Deborah Willis, University Professor and Chair of the Department of Photography and Imaging in the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. The exhibit will contain photographs, video, performance art and objects by twenty contemporary artists from the United States, Europe, and Africa. A Symposium will take place September 8-9, 2016 featuring lectures, panel discussions, and critiques with participation by Dr. Willis and artists Omar Victor Diop, Kalup Linzy, Bill Gaskins and Ji Yeo. Each individual in the exhibition is an internationally known practitioner of photography and visual art and will be able to share their experiences and expertise through lectures, critiques and activities at the Symposium.

Dr. Deborah Willis is a respected curator, writer, and photographer. For Framing Beauty: Intimate Visions she has selected the work of twenty artists who create work about beauty and identity. Deborah Willis writes “The tension explored in this exhibition 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 photographs to incorporate stories about 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 one re-images and re-imagines 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.”


The exhibition will contain works by:

Mangue Bazima                                                 Michael M. Koehler

Sheila Pree Bright                                              Kalup Linzy

Zoe Buckman                                                    Osamu James Nakagawa

Omar Victor Diop                                               Gordon Parks

Adama Delphine Fawundu                                  Hank Willis Thomas

Ana Theresa Fernandez                                     Mickalene Thomas

Bill Gaskins                                                      Carrie Mae Weems

Gerard H. Gaskin                                              Fo Wilson

Susan Kae Grant                                              Kehinde Wiley

Myra Greene                                                    Ji Yeo


The exhibition and symposium Framing Beauty: Intimate Visions will provide an opportunity to address the political and cultural nuances of the idea of beauty and structure discussion about this indefinable and sometimes enigmatic attribute. Guest curator Deborah Willis will bring a knowledgeable approach to this project by selecting artists whose work questions ideas of beauty in terms of race, gender and cultural assumptions and perceptions. The video, performances, photographs and installations in this exhibit will require viewers to consider their own ideas about beauty and how images might shape our personal and cultural definitions.


An exhibition catalog containing essays by Deborah Willis and curator Rujeko Hockley, curator at the Brooklyn Museum will be published and distributed by Indiana University Press.


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 Analysis, 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 he 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, and Michelle Obama: The First Lady in Photographs, a NAACP Image Award Literature Winner.


These events are sponsored in part by Themester 2016: “Beauty,” an initiative of the College of Arts & Sciences. This project was partially supported by Indiana University’s New Frontiers in the Arts & Humanities Program. Further assistance comes from the College Arts and Humanities Institute and the Center for Integrative Photographic Studies, with additional support from the Studio Art Department in the School of Art and Design in the College of Arts and Sciences and the Grunwald Gallery at Indiana University. The lecture by Deborah Willis is sponsored by the McKinney Visiting Artist Series. The Grunwald Gallery would like to thank the lenders to the exhibition.


For further information, please contact the Grunwald Gallery at (812) 855-8490 or We invite you to visit our website at The Grunwald Gallery is accessible to people with disabilities. Gallery hours are Tuesday – Saturday, 12:00pm – 4:00pm, closed Sunday and Monday or by appointment. All events are free and open to the public. For more information on the Studio Art Department, the School of Art and Design and the Grunwald Gallery at Indiana University, please visit