Photographer, historian, and curator Deb Willis’s breakthrough exhibition, Posing Beauty in African American Culture, has been travelling for over 10 years. It’s based on her book Posing Beauty: African American Images from the 1890s to the Present, featuring snapshots, documentary photographs, and works by artists, all exploring beauty in Black culture. We meet Deb at the opening of “Posing Beauty” at the New Jersey State Museum in Trenton. She describes how she had a hard time finding out about Black photographers when she was an art student; ever since, she’s made it her mission to research, write, and publish about the rich history of African American photography. Deb Willis has received MacArthur and Guggenheim Fellowships, and is the chair of photography and imaging in the Tisch School of Arts at New York University. Also featured in the story are photographer Wendel A. White and artist Hank Willis Thomas, Deb’s son.

Producer Susan Wallner, Narrator Nemuna Ceesay, Director of Photography Joe Conlon, Production Associate Isaiah McClain. Additional footage courtesy of TEDxWomen. Special thanks to the New Jersey State Museum and the Newark Museum of Art.