INNOVATIVE AND RELEVANT PROGRAMMING has become a signature of the California African American Museum (CAAM) over the past year. Recent presentations have included “Hank Willis Thomas: Black Righteous Space”; “Genevieve Gaignard: Smell the Roses,” the first museum exhibition of the emerging artist; and a group exhibition featuring four contemporary African artists. This month, black history programming at CAAM included a conversation between mother-daughter artists Betye Saar and Alison Saar. The fresh agenda came about when Naima Keith joined the Los Angeles museum as its first-ever deputy director of exhibitions and programming.

Now Keith is being honored with a prestigious award that recognizes her recent efforts and broader commitment to modern and contemporary art throughout her career as a champion of African American artists. The High Museum of Art in Atlanta announced Keith is the recipient of the 2017 David C. Driskell Prize.

“The level of passion and dedication Naima has applied to providing a platform for contemporary African American artists is extraordinary,” Rand Suffolk, director of the High Museum said in the announcement. “We are proud to welcome her among the impressive group of past Driskell Prize recipients and to support her work, which has introduced audiences to important artists of our time and will continue to make a significant impact in years to come.”

“The level of passion and dedication Naima has applied to providing a platform for contemporary African American artists is extraordinary.”
— Rand Suffolk, director of the High Museum

THE ANNUAL PRIZE is touted as the first national honor to recognize an emerging or mid-career artist or art scholar for exceptional contributions to the field of African-American art history and related Diaspora studies. Named for esteemed artist and scholar David C. Driskell, the award was established by the High Museum in 2005. Los Angeles artist Mark Bradford received the 2016 Driskell prize.

A Los Angeles native, Keith previously served as associate curator at the Studio Museum, where she organized many exhibitions including “Charles Gaines: Gridwork 1974-1989.” She was also a curatorial fellow at the Hammer Museum. Keith was featured among 25 Curators Shaking Things Up by artnet News in 2015. On April 28, she is receiving the 13th annual Driskell Prize at celebratory dinner at the High Museum.

In the meantime, spring exhibitions at CAAM open March 2. Programming includes “No Justice, No Peace: LA 1992,” an exhibition examining the Los Angeles uprising on the occasion of its 25th anniversary; and solo shows by Derrick Adams, winner of the Studio Museum in Harlem’s 2016 Joyce Alexander Wein Prize, and Kenyatta A.C. Hinkle, whose presentation features drawings and a performance that focuses on missing black women in the United States and throughout the diaspora. CT


IMAGE: Feb. 19, 2015 – Curator Naima Keith attends members opening of “Charles Gaines: Gridwork 1974-1989,” at Hammer Museum in Los Angeles. | Photo by Stefanie Keenan, Getty Images for Hammer Museum


Naima Keith’s scholarly contributions have included “Charles Gaines: Gridwork 1974-1989,” which was published to coincide with the exhibition she organized.


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