Deana Lawson and Tracy K. Smith in conversation

In this wide-ranging conversation, artist Deana Lawson and poet Tracy K. Smith discuss their respective creative processes, how their parents have influenced, resisted, and embraced their work, and the holy spaces that Black artists occupy.

“Artists On Writers | Writers On Artists” is a monthly video series co-produced by Artforum and Bookforum magazines that brings together luminaries in the fields of art and literature to have the conversations they themselves wish to have.

Deana Lawson is a photo-based artist born in Rochester, NY. She received her BFA in Photography from Pennsylvania State University (2001) and her MFA from Rhode Island School of Design (2004). As the winner of the 2020 Hugo Boss Prize, her work is the subject of a solo exhibition currently on view at the Guggenheim Museum in New York through October 11. Lawson's first museum survey, curated by Eva Respini and Peter Eleey, is currently on view at the ICA Boston, and will travel to MoMA PS1 in New York, and the High Museum in Atlanta. Other notable solo exhibitions include shows at Kunsthalle Basel, Switzerland (2020); Huis Marseille, Amsterdam (2019); the Underground Museum, Los Angeles, CA (2018); the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, PA (2018); and Contemporary Art Museum Saint Louis, MO (2017). Her work is held in the permanent collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, IL; Brooklyn Museum of Art, NY; Carnegie Museum of Art, PA; Huis Marseille Museum voor Fotografie, Amsterdam, The Netherlands; Museum of Modern Art, NY; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, NY; and Whitney Museum of Art, NY, among many others. Lawson is the recipient of the Art Matters Grant, John Gutmann Photography Fellowship, Rema Hort Mann Foundation Grant, Aaron Siskind Fellowship Grant, and a NYFA Grant. In 2013, Lawson was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, and was the 2020 recipient of the Hugo Boss Prize.

Tracy K. Smith is the author of Such ColorWade in the Water; Life on Mars, winner of the Pulitzer Prize; Duende, winner of the James Laughlin Award; and The Body’s Question, winner of the Cave Canem Poetry Prize. She is also the editor of an anthology, American Journal: Fifty Poems for Our Time, as well as The Best American Poetry 2021. She is the author of a memoir, Ordinary Light, which was a finalist for the National Book Award. From 2017 to 2019, Smith served as Poet Laureate of the United States. She teaches at Harvard University.

This episode of “Artists on Writers | Writers on Artists” is sponsored by Fotografiska