A Culture of Legacy Award – 2017
Beuford Smith was born in Cincinnati, Ohio. A self-taught photographer, he began freelancing in the late 1970s. His clients include Black Star, AT&T, Emory University, Merrill Lynch, Avon, and GE. Smith is the founder of Cesaire Photo Agency and a founder and chief photo editor of the Black Photographers Annual (1973-1981). He has taught photography at Cooper Union, Hunter College, and the Brooklyn Museum. Smith served as staff photographer for Emmanuel Baptist Church from 1995-2007. Smith is a former President (1997-2003) and member (1965-2005)and now president emeritus of Kamoinge, Inc. Smith spearheaded the group’s effort to achieve 501(c)3 status and facilitated collecting photos for Kamoinge’s book, The Sweet Breath of Life edited by Frank Stewart. Smith served on the curatorial committee for the Committed to the Image exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum in 2001. He served on NYFA’s photography panel in 2002. He is also a former Advisory Board member of En Foco, Inc. (2005-2012). Smith received a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in 1990 and 2000, a LightWork Artist-in Residence Fellowship in 1999 and an Aaron Siskind Foundation Fellowship in 1998 among other awards.
From a professional base in photography and arts writing, an academic foundation in fine art, the history of photography, American Studies and the perspective of a citizen of the United States, the work of Bill Gaskins explores questions about photography and the portrait in the 21st century. A critical entry point for the viewer is his fascination with the myths of photography and American culture and representations of African American people. His approach to photography as both producer and critical spectator has garnered attention through commissions, artist residencies, grants, public lectures, solo and group exhibitions, exhibition catalogs and books.
As a professor of art, Bill Gaskins has taught at The Ohio State University, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, the University of Missouri, the College of Art, Media & Technology and the College of Art and Design Theory and History at Parsons School of Design, and the graduate program in Media Studies in The New School for Public Engagement. Presently he is an Associate Professor in the Department of Art with a faculty appointment in the American Studies Program at Cornell University.