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May 2, 6:00 pm7:00 pm

Keynote Conversation:
Dr. Deborah Willis in discussion with
Dr. Kalia Brooks

Thursday, May 2, 2024

Please register here to attend this free, in-person event.
Seats will be available on a first come first serve basis.
Doors open at 5:30PM. 

For our annual Keynote Conversation on May 2nd, we are honored to have the esteemed photographer and historian, Dr. Deborah Willis in conversation with Dr. Kalia Brooks, NXTHVN’s interim executive director and director of programs and exhibitions. An artist, author and curator, Willis is University Professor and chair of the Department of Photography and Imaging at Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. She also has affiliated appointments with the College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Social and Cultural Analysis, and the Institute of Fine Arts, where she teaches courses on photography and imaging, iconicity, and cultural histories visualizing the Black body, women and gender. Honored with numerous awards, grants, and fellowships, including the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship, Willis will discuss key moments from her prolific career such as co-founder of the Black Portraitures conference that recently held its 14th iteration in Venice, Italy; along with her recent initiative and partnership with Getty Images to elevate Black history and empower storytellers; and her most recent nomination as a Member on the National Council on the Humanities by President Joe Biden.

A recording of the conversation will be available on our website in the weeks following the program.


Deborah Willis, PhD, is University Professor and Chair of the Department of Photography & Imaging at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. She is the recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship and a member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. She is the author of The Black Civil War Soldier: A Visual History of Conflict and Citizenship and Posing Beauty: African American Images from the 1890s to the Present, among others. Professor Willis’s curated exhibitions include: “Framing Moments in the KIA,” “Migrations and Meanings in Art”, “Let Your Motto Be Resistance: African American Portraits” at the International Center of Photography; Out of Fashion Photography; Framing Beauty at the Henry Art Gallery and “Reframing Beauty: Intimate Moments” at Indiana University.


Kalia Brooks, PhD, is the interim executive director and director of programs and exhibitions at NXTHVN. She is responsible for the design and delivery of curatorial exhibitions, public programs, artist projects, community engagement initiatives and the learning environment for the fellowship and apprenticeship programs.  Her academic research covers art from the nineteenth century to the present, with an emphasis on emergent technologies and African American, trans-Atlantic and diasporic cultures of the Americas. Brooks holds a PhD in Aesthetics and Art Theory from the Institute for Doctoral Studies in the Visual Arts (IDSVA). She is co editor of Women and Migration: Responses in Art and History (Open Book Publishers, Cambridge, UK, 2019 and 2022). She has served as a consulting curator with the City of New York through the Department of Cultural Affairs and was an ex-officio trustee on the Board of the Museum of the City of New York during the de Blasio administration.