Bill Gaskins

As an artist and essayist, Bill Gaskins intrepidly explores the possibilities of portraiture in photography and cinema from an interdisciplinary foundation that includes journalism, the history of photography and art, and American and African American Studies. An important entry point for Gaskins's work is his interest in representations of African American life in visual and popular culture.

He is the author of his breakthrough monograph, Good & Bad Hair. Aperture Magazine marked the 20th anniversary of this book in its "Elements of Style" issue. The import of his work and his relevance as a contemporary artist has garnered attention through books, catalogs, and solo and group exhibitions at major venues including the Crocker Museum of Art, Brooklyn Museum of Art, Detroit Institute of Arts, and The Smithsonian Institution. He is also a faculty member in the American Studies Program at Cornell. Gaskins earned his B.F.A. from the Tyler School of Art, an M.A. from The Ohio State University, and his M.F.A. from the Maryland Institute College of Art.

Academic Research/Specialty Areas

  • Collaborative practice
  • Film/video/sound
  • Photography
  • Visual representation

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Classes (Selected)

  • ART 2601 Introduction to PhotographyThis course explores camera and lens as devices that frame and translate three-dimensional space to a two-dimensional surface. Through assignments and individual investigation, students acquire a deeper understanding of visual perception and photography as medium for personal expression. This course introduces students to photographic processes and assumes no prior knowledge of photography.
  • ART 4000 Studio Research WorkshopThis advanced studio workshop fosters investigation of artistic intention behind the development of complex visual and non-visual expression. It begins with assignments structured to identify the conceptual and formal considerations central to each student's individual artistic objectives. Once identified, these become the basis for rigorous investigation and research. The resulting body of work informs and supports advanced thesis projects and art practices beyond thesis year.
  • ART 4001 Senior Thesis StudioThis course continues the independent studio research and production of the Advanced Practice course to prepare students for ART 4002: Thesis II.  During Thesis I, students begin to research, develop, and clarify their thesis proposals through dialogues, readings, and critiques with members of the Core Thesis Faculty. Emphasis is on deepening awareness of the intention and reading of the work and situating individual interests within and against historical, theoretical, and conceptual contexts.
  • AMST 3010 Photography and The American Dream
  • PMA 2000 Light as Subject — from Photography to Cinema

Awards, Grants, and Fellowships (Selected)

  • University Distinguished Teaching Award, New School University (2011)
  • James P. Duffy Endowed Visiting Professor, Department of Art and Art History, Wayne State University (2011)
  • Artist-in-Residence, Center for Race, Culture and Politics, University of Chicago (2010)

Exhibitions and Presentations (Selected)

  • Presentation: "About Learning," Society for Photographic Education National Conference (2013)
  • Film screening: The Meaning of Hope, Detroit Institute of Arts (2013)
  • Public lecture: "What is the History of Photography," Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art (2013)

Publications (Selected)

  • "The Hairdresser Knows What the Looking Glass Doesn't," Sonya Clark The Hair Craft Project, catalog essay (2015)
  • "The Need's Got To Be So Deep," album liner notes, Darryl Harper Hipnotic Records (2014)
  • "Cornell Perspectives: Americans Get a Bloodless View of War," Cornell Chronicle (2012)