Makeda Best, Curator

 Illustration by  Jeffrey Phillips

Illustration by Jeffrey Phillips


Dr. Makeda Best (San Francisco, b. 1975) is the Richard L. Menschel Curator of Photography at the Harvard Art Museums. She is currently revising a book on the Civil–War-era photographer Alexander Gardner. She is co-editor of Conflict, Identity and Protest in American Art. Previously, Dr. Best was the assistant professor in visual studies at the California College of the Arts. She has received fellowships and grants from numerous institutions like The Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Phillips Collection, and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

 

 

Portfolio

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Max de Esteban: Twenty Red Lights,
by Max de Esteban

"Max Esteban’s 20 Red Lights about the 2008 financial crisis is more timely than ever. Each page features a different term/concept or “red light” — such as “credit default swap” or “revolver” and a definition of the term opposite a photograph by Esteban. The sense of movement inspired by the design and the weaving in and out of text and red elements is effective because it forces you to consider the meaning of these terms and how they infiltrated the financial lives of everyday people."

 

The Notion of Family,
by Latoya Ruby Frazier

"The 10th anniversary of the 2008 financial crisis has also got me looking again at Latoya Ruby Frazier’s brilliant The Notion of Family. As I look at Esteban’s exploration of the collapse of the economy at a particular moment, this book reminds me of the human cost and of an economic shift that was/is far less dramatic (but no less catastrophic) than 2008. This time around, I am drawn to the details in the photographs. I also enjoy the movement in this book – how time is illustrated within photographs, and expanded through text."

 

My America,
by Diana Matar

"Diana Matar’s forthcoming book on police killings is riveting. She’s done something impressive with the organization – separating it into volumes – the killing of African Americans, Native Americans, Latinos, those coping with mental illness. She photographs the sites where people were killed. Some of the names you know and most you probably don’t. The specific collections force the viewer to think about how each community faces this threat in unique but also similar ways. The photographs are so spare and mundane."