Saturday October 22nd, 1-5pm, followed by a reception

Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute at Hunter College
47-49 East 65th Street
New York, NY

Please RSVP to the event here
Livestream here


Dawoud Bey, Fifth Avenue and East 125th Street, 2015, from Harlem Redux. Courtesy, Sean Kelly Gallery


About this event

The recuperation of marginalized and fractured histories through photography prompts us to re-interrogate the image and understand its narrative power. This conversation invites artists, curators, and scholars whose recent projects have demonstrated how photography can contribute to the excavation of forgotten histories and shed light on current issues of global migration and displacement. Our discussion pursues many venues, ranging from the scholarly reappraisal of an important history of Black photography through the Kamoinge Workshop, to contemporary curatorial practices that are investigating artists’ involvement with environmental fragility, to the spatial exploration of histories of migration and mourning in the African diaspora, to artworks that provoke us to make connections between memory and sociopolitical histories. The conversation is prompted by a recent Hunter College publication on Harlem’s 125th Street, which has studied photography as a form of belonging to place. We are aiming to foster a debate over the powerful significance of photography to memorialize histories that are brittle and sustain ongoing narratives that explain our relationship to place.

Organized by Antonella Pelizzari, Professor, Department of Art and Art History, Hunter College, with support from Noa Wesley, Lazarus Graduate Curatorial Fellow.

Schedule of Events

1:00-1:15 – Introduction

1:15-1:45 – Makeda Best, Richard L. Menschel Curator of Photography, Harvard Art Museums

2:00-2:20 – Sarah Eckhardt, Associate Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, Virginia Fine Arts Museum

2:20-3:00 – A conversation with Kamoinge photographers Beuford Smith and Shawn Walker, facilitated by Sarah Eckhardt

3:10-3:40 – Mabel O. Wilson, Nancy and George E. Rupp Professor of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation, Columbia University

3:50-4:20 – Leslie Hewitt, Associate Professor of Art, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art 

4:30-5pm – Panel

5-7pm – Reception



Makeda Best is the Richard L. Menschel Curator of Photography at the Harvard University Art Museums and oversees the museums’ photography collections. Her scholarly interests focus on 19th– and 20th-century American photography, with a special interest in photojournalism, documentary, war photography, and text and image works. Recent exhibitions include On the Line: Documents of Risk and Faith (co-curated with Kevin Moore as part of the 2022 FotoFocus Biennial; 2022-23); Devour the Land: War and American Landscape Photography since 1970; (2021-22); and Crossing Lines, Constructing Home: Displacement and Belonging in Contemporary Art (co-curated with Mary Schneider Enriquez; 2019-20).

Sarah Eckhardt is the associate curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Her department is responsible for the museum’s early twentieth century European holdings as well as the mid-to-late twentieth-century and twenty-first century collections, including photography and the sculpture garden. In 2020, she curated Working Together: Louis Draper and the Kamoinge Workshop at the VMFA, which traveled to the Whitney Museum (2020-21) and the Getty Museum (2022).

Leslie Hewitt works with photography, sculpture, and site-specific installations to address fluid notions of time. Her work oscillates between the illusionary potential of photography and the physical weight of sculpture. She is the Associate Professor of Art at The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art and co-organizes the Copper Union School of Art Intra-Disciplinary Lecture with curator and writer Omar Berrada. Her work is currently on view in Leslie Hewitt, a solo-exhibition at Dia Art Foundation in Bridgehampton, NY.

Beuford Smith is a photographer and joined the Kamoinge Workshop in 1965. His first published photo appeared in the Amsterdam News in 1965, for which he received five dollars but no credit. In the 1970s and 80s, his photographs were published in Black Creation, Ten-8, and elsewhere. Smith was the founder and chief photo editor of the Black Photographers Annual. He has had solo shows at the Studio Museum in Harlem, Benin Art Gallery, Wilmer Jennings Gallery, and Keith DeLellis Gallery. He lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.

Shawn Walker is a photographer and founding member of the Kamoinge Workshop. His work has been exhibited internationally at institutions including the Smithsonian Institute, Schomburg Center, Brooklyn Museum, MoMA PS1, Whitney Museum, International Center of Photography, Museum of Modern Art, New York, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Studio Museum of Harlem. He lives and works in Harlem, NY.

Mabel O. Wilson is the Nancy and George Rupp Professor of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, a Professor in African American and African Diasporic Studies, and the Director of the Institute for Research in African American Studies at Columbia University. Through her transdisciplinary practice Studio &, Wilson makes visible and legible the ways that anti-black racism shapes the built environment along with the ways that blackness creates spaces of imagination, refusal and desire. Her research investigates space, politics and cultural memory in black America; race and modern architecture; new technologies and the social production of space; and visual culture in contemporary art, media and film. Wilson has published two books Begin with the Past: Building the National Museum of African American History and Culture (2016) and Negro Building: Black Americans in the World of Fairs and Museums (University of California Press 2012).


This program is funded with generous support from the Crossway Foundation