Read the biographies of the esteemed scholars invited to share
their insights for The Democratic Lens discussion series.
ITALIC ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR & LECTURER, STANFORD UNIVERSITY
Kim Beil, Ph.D., is an art historian who teaches at Stanford University. Her book, Good Pictures: A History of Popular Photography (Stanford University Press, 2020) tracks 50 stylistic trends in the medium since the 19th century. Much of her research was drawn from vintage how-to manuals. Beil has also written about photography and climate change for The Atlantic, on screenshots for The Believer, Google streetview for Cabinet, and most recently, for The New York Times, about hiking 50 miles to track down a little-known Ansel Adams photograph in the High Sierra. She also writes about contemporary art and artists for Artforum, Art in America, BOMB, and Photograph magazines.
DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF CURATORIAL AFFAIRS, OAKLAND MUSEUM OF CALIFORNIA
Makeda Best, Ph.D., is currently the Deputy Director of Curatorial Affairs at the Oakland Museum of California (OMCA). Best comes to OMCA after serving at Harvard University Art Museums as Richard L. Menschel Curator of Photography since 2017, and previously as Assistant Professor of Visual Studies at California College of the Arts. Her exhibitions at the Harvard Art Museums include Devour the Land: War and American Landscape Photography Since 1970, Crossing Lines, Constricting Home: Displacement and Belonging in Contemporary Art; Winslow Homer: Eyewitness; Time is Now: Photography and Social Change in James Baldwin’s America, and Please Stay Home: Darrel Ellis in Conversation with Wardell Milan and Leslie Hewitt.
Beyond photography, Best conceived of the Museums’ curatorial ReFrame initiative, which aims to critically examine the museum and its collections. With Kevin Moore, she co-curated the 2022 FotoFocus Biennial exhibition, On the Line – Documents of Risk and Faith. Her current exhibition project with the Boston Athenaeum explores the world of the Boston-based abolitionist couple Lewis and Harriet Hayden. Best has contributed to multiple exhibition catalogues, journals, and scholarly publications. She co-edited Conflict, Identity, and Protest in American Art (2015). She is the author of Elevate the Masses: Alexander Gardner, Photography and Democracy in 19th Century America. Her exhibition catalogue, Devour the Land: War and American Landscape Photography since 1970 (2022), was awarded the Photography Catalogue of the Year Award at the 2022 Paris Photo-Aperture PhotoBook Awards.
ATTORNEY, VISUAL STORYTELLER, & DIRECTOR OF ENGAGEMENT, CENTER
Deborah Espinosa, M.A., J.D., is an attorney-at-law and a visual storyteller-at-heart. She serves as CENTER’s Director of Engagement.
Deborah combines her legal and photographic training to collaborate and advocate with marginalized communities to bring little-known injustices into the light, both in the United States and in the global south, with the goal of legal and social reform. She is a We, Women artist, and her work has been exhibited in galleries and public venues in Chicago, New Orleans, New York City, San Francisco, and Seattle, as well as at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.
PROFESSOR OF ART HISTORY, TEXAS STATE UNIVERSITY
Erina Duganne is currently working on a book about Artists Call and its solidarity practices. She has also published Global Photography: A Critical History (2020), co-authored with Heather Diack and Terri Weissman, The Self in Black and White: Race and Subjectivity in Postwar American Photography (2010), and Beautiful Suffering: Photography and the Traffic in Pain (2007), co-edited with Mark Reinhardt and Holly Edwards.
Holly Stuart Hughes
INDEPENDENT EDITOR, WRITER & GRANT CONSULTANT
Holly Stuart Hughes is an independent editor, writer, and grant consultant. The former editor-in-chief of PDN (Photo District News), she has organized panels and lectured on artists’ rights and the business of photography around the U.S., and served as a portfolio reviewer at several photo festivals. A graduate of Yale, she has written on photography and media for Time.com, The Telegraph, Multichannel News, Taschen Books, American Photographic Artists, Magnum Photos, Carlton Publishing, and Blouin ArtInfo Media.
Sarah Elizabeth Lewis
ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF THE HUMANITIES & ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF AFRICAN & AMERICAN STUDIES, HARVARD UNIVERSITY
Sarah Elizabeth Lewis is an art and cultural historian. She is John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Humanities & Associate Professor of African & African American Studies at Harvard University and the founder of Vision & Justice. Lewis also serves on the Standing Committee on American Studies and Standing Committee on Women, Gender, and Sexuality at Harvard University. Her research focuses on the intersection of visual representation, racial justice, and democracy in the United States from the nineteenth century through the present. Her books and edited volumes include The Rise, translated into seven languages, Carrie Mae Weems, which won the 2021 Photography Network Book Prize, and “Vision & Justice” by Aperture magazine, which received the 2017 Infinity Award for Critical Writing and Research from the International Center of Photography. In 2019, Lewis received the Freedom Scholar Award, presented by The Association for the Study of African American Life and History for her body of work and its “direct positive impact on the life of African-Americans.” She was named an Andrew Carnegie Fellow in 2022.
Her forthcoming publications include How Race Changed Sight in America (Harvard University Press, 2024), Vision & Justice (One World/Random House, Fall 2024), and Groundwork: Race and Aesthetics in the Era of Stand Your Ground Law (Spring 2024). The article on which Groundwork is based, published in Art Journal (Winter 2020), won the 2022 Arthur Danto/ASA Prize from the American Philosophical Association for “the best paper in the field of aesthetics, broadly understood.” A frequent speaker at universities and conferences, including TED and SXSWedu, she has had op-eds, commentary, and profiles of her work published in outlets including The New York Times, Aperture, The New York Review of Books, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, and The Boston Globe.
Lucy R. Lippard
WRITER, ACTIVIST, & CURATOR
Lucy R. Lippard is a writer, activist, sometime curator, and author of 25 books on contemporary art and cultural criticism, including From the Center: Feminist Essays on Women’s Art, Eva Hesse, Mixed Blessings: New Art in a Multicultural America. The Lure of the Local: Senses of Place in a Multicentered Society, and most recently, Undermining: A Wild Ride through Land Use, Politics, and Art in the Changing West, and Pueblo Chico: Land and lives in Galisteo Since 1814. She has co-founded various artists’ feminist and activist organizations and publications. She lives off the grid in rural Galisteo, New Mexico, where for 23 years, she has edited the monthly community newsletter: El Puente de Galisteo.
SCHOLAR, CURATOR, & STAVROS NIARCHOS FOUNDATION DEAN, YALE SCHOOL OF ART, YALE UNIVERSITY
Kymberly Pinder, Ph.D., is a Scholar, Curator and is currently the Dean at the Yale School of Art, Yale University. She was a professor and administrator for sixteen years at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago before moving to New Mexico where she was dean of the College of Fine Arts at UNM from 2012 until 2019 when she became provost of the Massachusetts College of Art and Design. As a community arts scholar, Pinder has been committed to community engagement and interdisciplinary initiatives. Her efforts at the UNM Art Museum at UNM resulted in an annual “all-arts day” titled ArtUnexpected, and as interim museum director, she began the multi-city initiative, PhotoSummer to promote the programming around photography and facilitated this event across NM.
Before and during her teaching career, she worked in the education and curatorial departments in museums and galleries, such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Cloisters in New York, and The Art Institute of Chicago. Pinder has been published in the Art Journal, Art Bulletin, and Third Text. She has received awards and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Mellon, Ford, and Henry Luce Foundations, among others.
PROFESSOR OF AFRICAN AMERICAN STUDIES, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, BERKELEY
Leigh Raiford, Ph.D., is a Professor of African American Studies at the University of California at Berkeley, where she teaches, researches, writes, and curates about race, gender, justice, and visuality. She is the inaugural director of the Black Studies Collaboratory, a three-year project funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Before arriving at UC Berkeley, she was the Woodrow Wilson Postdoctoral Fellow at Duke University’s John Hope Franklin Center for Interdisciplinary and International Studies. She is the recipient of fellowships and awards from the American Council of Learned Societies, the Ford Foundation, Volkswagen Foundation (Germany), the Mellon Foundation, the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, and the Hellman Family Foundation, and has also been a Fulbright Senior Specialist.
Raiford is the author of Imprisoned in a Luminous Glare: Photography and the African American Freedom Struggle (University of North Carolina Press, 2011). She is co-editor with Heike Raphael-Hernandez of Migrating the Black Body: Visual Culture and the African Diaspora (University of Washington Press, 2017) and with Renee Romano of The Civil Rights Movement in American Memory (University of Georgia Press, 2006). Her work has appeared in numerous academic journals, as well as popular venues, including Artforum, Aperture, Ms. Magazine, Atlantic.com, and Al-Jazeera.com. In 2019, she co-curated the group shows Plumb Line: Charles White and the Contemporary at the California African American Museum, Los Angeles (with Essence Harden); and About Things Loved: Blackness and Belonging at the Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive (with Prof. Lauren Kroiz and the students in the yearlong Mellon Curatorial Seminar).
Shawn Michelle Smith
PROFESSOR OF VISUAL & CRITICAL STUDIES, THE SCHOOL OF THE ART INSTITUTE OF CHICAGO
Shawn Michelle Smith is the Professor of Visual and Critical Studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago; author of At the Edge of Sight: Photography and the Unseen and Photography on the Color Line: W. E. B. Du Bois, Race, and Visual Culture; and co-editor of Photography and the Optical Unconscious and Pictures and Progress: Early Photography and the Making of African American Identity; all also published by Duke University.