Naima J. Keith
This site is an archive for curatorial projects, critical writing, publications, interviews, and lectures.
Naima J. Keith is a curator deeply committed to producing timely exhibitions and programs, advocating for artists and institutions, thinking critically, and developing ideas that are central to our time. Through her work with the Hammer Museum, The Studio Museum in Harlem, and now the California African American Museum, she has come to understand that institutions can evolve to engage more broadly with the multiple, often competing histories that make us who we are. She is dedicated to creating exhibitions and public programs that open up dialogues and create spaces in which to see artists as important thinkers, and to see artworks as a way to understand not only art history, but also cultural history. Keith is committed to doing this work, deepening our knowledge of contemporary art of the African Diaspora and securing its place in the canons of modern and contemporary art.
Art was always in Naima’s blood. Both her mother and father are collectors of African American art, and moreover, they appreciated and honored the artists they culled, often taking Naima to museum exhibitions. Even as she made the attempt to study economics in college, Naima was drawn back to her creative instincts, realizing a passion for working with up-and-coming, or under-appreciated African American artists. Maybe it was fate, maybe it was the dichotomy of math vs. art, absolute answers vs. subjective opinion, or maybe the ‘numbers just didn’t add up,’ but Naima went on to earn a Bachelor’s in Art History from Spelman College, and a Masters in Contemporary Art at UCLA.
Contrary to popular belief, Naima does find time for life beyond her work, and prefers not to sleep in the museum … at least, not every night. She makes her home in Los Angeles with her husband, 3 - year - old daughter, and 11 months old son relishing the opportunity to expose them to the same culture, history and art from their own childhood. When she’s not indulging in interior design books, Naima loves to travel every chance she gets and maintains an ongoing mission for the best French Fries in the world, making sure to sample the delicacy in every city she’s in. Admittedly, when she finds them, she’ll probably continue the investigation just to be certain.