Her Eyes Only

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Timed to coincide with both Black History Month and Women’s History Month, “HER EYES ONLY: Coreen Simpson & Gylbert Coker on Black Women’s Photography and Photobooks in the 1970s” is a free public program to be presented via Franklin Furnace Archive, Inc.’s virtual LOFT.

“HER EYES ONLY” aims to serve a broad cross-section of the general public of New York State and beyond with this program dually commemorating Black History Month and Women’s History Month. By bringing to light the little-known fact that African-American artists, and African-American women artists in particular, did not publish books of their photographs in the 1970s because racist systems in place shunted them and their work, making it impossible for them to find publishers to work with and prohibitively expensive to self-publish, we aim to begin redressing historic wrongs by bringing them to light so that these neglected oeuvres may at last be appreciated and can potentially be published and be made available to all.

Coreen Simpson is a NYC-based African-American artist, photographer, and jewelry designer, whose work explores African-American themes. She has been actively creating art since the 1970s. Her work is in the collections of ICP, MoMA, NY, Musée de la Photographie à Charleroi, Belgium, The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, The James Van Der Zee Institute, The U.S. Library of Congress and The Smithsonian. Ms. Simpson is a Light Work, NYSCA & NYFA fellow. Simpson’s work is represented in several books, art catalogs and publications but awaits a well- deserved monograph and major museum retrospective exploring her art.

Gylbert Coker is an African-American art historian, curator, and museum director who has
worked at The Guggenheim, The Met, MoMA, The Studio Museum in Harlem and the Zora
Neale Hurston Museum. One of the first African-American scholars to write regularly for Art in America and Arts, she holds a BA from Pratt Institute; MAs from NYU and Hunter College; and a Ph.D. from Florida State University, Tallahassee. Dr. Coker was co-curator of Art Across The Park, NYC, 1980 and 1982, introduced Bill Traylor in a 1978 exhibition, and now directs the Mitchell Young Anderson Museum in Thomasville, Georgia.

Harley Spiller, the Ken Dewey Director of Franklin Furnace, is a career arts administrator, Harley has worked in the curator’s offices at The White House, The U.S. Department of State Diplomatic Reception Rooms, The Albright-Knox Art Gallery, The Jewish Museum, The Gallery at Takashimaya and the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. His art has been exhibited worldwide and is in the permanent collections of MoMA, NY; The New York State Museum, Albany; The Smithsonian Institution National Museum of American History; and the University of Toronto Scarborough Special Collections Library. He holds an MA in Liberal Studies, with honors, from The New School and has been published by Abrams, Columbia University Press, The New York Times, Oxford University Press, Princeton Architectural Press, and the University of California Press.


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