The Grunwald Gallery at Indiana University Bloomington is pleased to present Framing Beauty:Intimate Visions, an exhibit guest-curated by 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, paintings 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 Banzima, Shelia Pree Bright, Zoe Buckman, Omar Victor Diop, Adama Delphine Fawundu, Ana Theresa Fernandez, Bill Gaskins, Gerard H. Gaskin, Susan Kae Grant, Myra Greene, Michael M. Koehler, Kalup Linzy, Osamu James Nakagawa, Gordon Parks, Hank Willis Thomas, Mickalene Thomas, Carrie Mae Weems, Fo Wilson, Kehinde Wiley and 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 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, and Michelle Obama: The First Lady in Photographs, a NAACP Image Award Literature Winner.