Naima J. Keith has been named the 2017 recipient of the David C. Driskell Prize by the High Museum of Art. The $25,000 prize is given in alternating years to an early or midcareer African-American artist or scholar for advancement in the field of African-American art or art history and related Diaspora studies.
In 2016, Keith, a Los Angeles native who holds degrees from Spelman College and UCLA, was named the first deputy director of exhibitions and programs at the California African American Museum (CAAM) in Los Angeles, where she oversees the permanent collection, exhibitions program and the museum’s research and scholarship. Previously, she was an associate curator at the Studio Museum in Harlem and, from 2008 to 2011, a curatorial fellow at UCLA’s Hammer Museum, where she serving as the primary contact for the groundbreaking exhibition “Now Dig This! Art and Black Los Angeles 1960–1980,” organized by guest curator Kellie Jones.
At CAAM, Keith has organized exhibitions by Hank Willis Thomas and Genevieve Gaignard. At the Studio Museum in Harlem, she curated more than 12 exhibitions, including those on Rodney McMillian, Titus Kaphar, Glenn Kaino, and Robert Pruitt, as well as the first major museum survey of the LA conceptual artist Charles Gaines, which traveled to the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles and was nominated in 2014 for a Best Monographic Museum Show in New York by the International Association of Art Critics (AICA-USA).
A national call for nominees went out to artists, curators, teachers, collectors, and art historians. The prize selection committee comprised Kellie Jones, the inaugural Driskell Prize recipient and associate professor and director of undergraduate studies in the department of art history and archaeology at Columbia University, and Valerie Cassel Oliver, the 2011 Driskell Prize recipient and senior curator of the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston; and the High’s curator of modern and contemporary art, Michael Rooks.
Recent Driskell Prize winners include Mark Bradford (2016), Kirsten Pai Buick (2015), Lyle Ashton Harris (2014), Andrea Barnwell Brownlee (2013), Rashid Johnson (2012), Valerie Cassel Oliver (2011), Renee Stout (2010), Krista A. Thompson (2009), Xaviera Simmons (2008), Franklin Sirmans (2007), Willie Cole (2006) and Dr. Kellie Jones (2005).
Keith will be honored at the 13th annual Driskell Prize Dinner at the High on Friday, April 28 at 7 p.m. Tickets for the black-tie event may be purchased by contacting Rhonda Matheison at email@example.com or 404-733-4403.
Proceeds from the dinner go toward the David C. Driskell African American Art Acquisition Endowment Fund, the David C. Driskell African American Art Acquisition Restricted Fund, exhibition support, and expenses associated with planning and activities for the David C. Driskell Prize and Dinner. Through the David C. Driskell African American Art Acquisition Restricted Fund, the High has acquired works by artists including Romare Bearden, Rashid Johnson, Radcliffe Bailey, Nick Cave, Willie Cole, John T. Scott and Renee Stout.