Dawoud Bey born in New York City, began his career as a photographer in 1975 with a series of photographs, “Harlem, USA,” that were later exhibited in his first one-person exhibition at the Studio Museum in Harlem in 1979. He has since had exhibitions worldwide, at institutions such as the Art Institute of Chicago, the Barbican Centre in London, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Detroit Institute of Arts, the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, the National Portrait Gallery in London, and the Whitney Museum of American Art, among many others. His photographs are in numerous collections in this country and abroad. The Walker Art Center organized a mid-career survey of his work, “Dawoud Bey: Portraits 1975-1995,” that traveled throughout the United States and Europe. A major publication of the same title was also published in conjunction with that exhibition. Class Pictures: Photographs by Dawoud Bey , was published by Aperture in 2007. Aperture also traveled that exhibition to various museums around the country through 2011. Harlem, USA was published by Yale University Press in conjunction with the Art Institute of Chicago in May 2012, where the work was exhibited in its entirety for the first time since it was shown at the Studio Museum in Harlem in 1979. Bey’s critical writings on photography and contemporary art have appeared in numerous publications and exhibition catalogs.
Bey’s recent work includes “Birmingham: Four Girls and Two Boys,” a project that features photographic pairings that freshly frame the tragic events surrounding the 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. The project presents portraits of citizens of contemporary Birmingham; it offers children the same ages as those who died, coupled with adults who are the ages the children would have reached had they lived. The museum published a catalogue, The Birmingham Project in 2013. Bey is the recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, and holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from Yale University. He is currently Distinguished College Artist and Professor of Art at Columbia College Chicago, where he has taught since 1998.