Naima J. Keith joined the California African American Museum (CAAM) in 2016 to guide the curatorial and education departments as well as marketing and communications. During her tenure at CAAM, Keith has also curated several exhibitions including Genevieve Gaignard: Smell the Roses (2016), Kenyatta A.C. Hinkle: The Evanesced (2017), and Gary Simmons: Fade to Black (2017–9). She was the 2017 recipient of the David C. Driskell Prize in recognition of her contributions to the field of African American art history, and is co-artistic director of Prospect.5 in New Orleans in 2020.
At CAAM, Keith has been committed to developing programming around the museum’s collection and exhibitions to engage a broad range of audiences, from school-age children and teachers to artists and scholars. She oversaw, with Director of Education and Public Programs Chelo Montoya, the full range of the Museum’s education programs, including lectures and gallery talks, exhibition-related programs, access coordination, scholarly symposia, and the innovative series CAAM Now!. Acclaimed artists including Mark Bradford and Theaster Gates have spoken at CAAM to standing-room-only crowds.
Each year Keith has identified a topical issue and coordinated the CAAM Now! series on subjects ranging from political activism—which featured speakers Maxine Waters, Angela Rye, David Banner, and others—to radical self care, which manifested in a series of talks, including Erika Huggins on meditation and Terry Crews on toxic masculinity, and daylong events offering yoga and dance classes, healthy eating workshops, and more. Keith also coordinated key programmatic collaborations with local institutions including Los Angeles Philharmonic, USC and Art + Practice. Over the past three years, the Museum has presented hundreds of education events, doubling its audience for public events.
Previously an associate curator at the Studio Museum in Harlem (2011–16), Keith’s notable exhibitions there include: Rodney McMillian: Views of Main Street (2016), Artists in Residence 2014–2015 (2015), Titus Kaphar (2014), Glenn Kaino (2014), and Robert Pruitt (2013), The Shadows Took Shape (co-curated with Zoe Whitley, 2013), Fore (co-curated with Lauren Haynes and Thomas J. Lax, 2012). Her historical survey, Charles Gaines: Gridwork 1974–1989 (2014), traveled to the Hammer Museum in spring 2015 and was nominated in 2014 for a "Best Monographic Museum Show in New York" award by the International Association of Art Critics (AICA-USA). Keith has also held a curatorial position at the Hammer Museum, 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. She has lectured extensively and her essays have appeared in numerous publications. Keith holds degrees from Spelman College and UCLA and is a proud native of Los Angeles.