Conversations: Among Friends featuring Lyle Ashton Harris, Deana Lawson, and Salamishah Tillet

Friday, April 4, 2014, 7:00 p.m.

Theater 3 (The Celeste Bartos Theater), mezzanine, The Lewis B. and Dorothy Cullman Education and Research Building

Doors open at 6:45 p.m.
7:00 p.m. Program
8:15 p.m. Reception

Presented by The Friends of Education of The Museum of Modern Art as part of the series Conversations: Among Friends, this evening's program features a conversation between artists Deana Lawson and Lyle Ashton Harris, and scholar and author Salamishah Tillet, moderated by Lucy Gallun, Assistant Curator, Department of Photography. Following the program, guests are invited to continue the conversation and meet the participants at an intimate reception catered by Fantasy Fare in The Cullman Mezzanine.

For more than two decades Lyle Ashton Harris has cultivated a diverse artistic practice including photographic media, collage, installation, and performance. His work explores intersections between the personal and the political, examining the impact of ethnicity, gender, and desire on contemporary social and cultural dynamics. Known for his self-portraits and use of pop culture icons (such as Billie Holiday and Michael Jackson), Harris teases the viewers’ perceptions and expectations, signifying cultural cursors, and recalibrating the familiar with the extraordinary. His work has been exhibited internationally, including at the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, and the 52nd Venice Biennale. His work has been acquired by major international museums, most recently by The Museum of Modern Art in New York. His commissioned work has been featured in a wide range of publications, including The New York Times Magazine and the New Yorker. In 2014 Harris joined the board of trustees of the American Academy in Rome. Born in New York City, Harris spent his formative years in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania. He received his bachelor of arts with honors from Wesleyan University in 1988, and his masters in fine arts from the California Institute of the Arts in 1990. He currently lives and works in New York City and is an associate professor at New York University.

Deana Lawson is a photography-based artist born in Rochester, NY. She received her MFA in photography from Rhode Island School of Design in 2004, and currently teaches photography at Princeton University. Her work examines the body’s ability to channel personal and social histories, addressing themes of familial legacy, community, romance, and religious/spiritual aesthetics. Her practice borrows from simultaneous visual traditions, including photographic and figurative portraiture, social documentary aesthetics, and vernacular family-album photographs. Lawson is visually inspired by the materiality of black culture and its expression as seen through the body and in domestic environments. Lace curtains, artificial nails, blemished skin, colored weave, and plastic couch covers are examples of visual material that Lawson identifies and heightens in her pictures. Careful attention is given to lighting and pose, both formal constructs used to transform, inform, and intensify representations of power and liberation through personal and intimate space. Lawson meets her subjects in everyday walks of life: grocery stores; subway trains; busy avenues in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn; road trips taken to the deep south; and travel abroad to the West Indies and beyond. Exhibitions include Rhona Hoffman Gallery, Chicago; Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia; MoMA, New York; MoMA PS1, Long Island City, New York; Helene Bailly Gallery, Paris; The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; Kunst im Tunnel in Düsseldorf, Germany; Light Work, Syracuse, New York; Cohan & Leslie, New York; Collette Blanchard Gallery, New York; Artists Space, New York; The Print Center, Philadelphia; and Spelman College Museum of Fine Art, Atlanta. Lawson is the recipient of the Art Matters Grant, John Gutmann Photography Fellowship, Rema Hort Mann Foundation Grant, Aaron Siskind Fellowship Grant, and a NYFA Grant. Her work has been published in the New Yorker, The Collector's Guide to New Art Photography Vol. 2, Time Out New York, Contact Sheet #154, and PQ Journal for Contemporary Photography Volume 24. Lawson has participated in residencies including Workspace Residency at Lower Manhattan Cultural Council in New York; Light Work in Syracuse, New York; and Visual Studies Workshop in Rochester, NY

As a rape survivor, scholar, and writer, Dr. Salamishah Tillet has spent her career championing the rights and voices of our most vulnerable citizens. Nominated by Glamour magazine as a “Women of the Year,” named as one of the “Top 50 Global Leaders Ending Violence Against Children” by the Together for Girls’ Safe magazine, and America’s “Top Leaders Under 30” by Ebony, she has appeared on the BBC, CNN, MSNBC, and NPR, written for The Chicago Tribune, The Guardian, and The Root, and guest blogs for The Nation. Currently, she is an associate professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania and has faculty appointments in the departments of Africana studies, and gender, sexuality, and women’s studies. In 2003, Tillet and her sister, Scheherazade Tillet, co-founded A Long Walk Home, Inc., a non-profit that uses art therapy and the visual and performing arts to end violence against all girls and women. Tillet was also an associate producer of Aishah Shahidah Simmons’s groundbreaking NO! The Rape Documentary, and was featured in the award-winning Rape Is... by Cambridge Documentary Films. She is the author of Sites of Slavery: Citizenship and Racial Democracy in the Post-Civil Rights Imagination (Duke University Press, 2012). In 2011, she wrote the liner notes for the three-time Grammy-award winning album Wake Up! by John Legend and The Roots. In 2013, she published Gloria Steinem: The Kindle Singles Interview with Amazon, and she is currently working on a book on the Civil Rights icon Nina Simone. She earned her PhD in the history of American civilization and AM in English and American literature from Harvard University, and her MA in teaching from Brown University. She also holds a BA in English and African American studies from the University of Pennsylvania. In 2010, she was awarded the Edmund J. and Louise W. Kahn Award for Distinguished Teaching by an Assistant Professor at the University of Pennsylvania. In 2010–11, she was the recipient of the Woodrow Wilson Foundation Fellow for Career Enhancement and served as a visiting fellow at the Center of African American Studies at Princeton University. In 2013–14, she was invited to be an inaugural member of the Project of the Advancement of Our Common Humanity, a think tank at New York University. She is also a Scholar-in-Residence at the New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.

Conversations: Among Friends is made possible by TD Bank.

Tickets ($35) may be purchased at the museum information and film desks, online at MoMA.org, or through the friends of education office.

All tickets will be held at the door.