Deana Lawson

Apr 13 – Sep 5, 2022

  • Past
  • Exhibition
A slightly damaged photograph of a Black woman facing the camera at a 3/4th angle. She is wearing glam makeup; a smokey eye, skinny brows, and red lips. She has a large, shining gold earring. Her hand rests just below her lip with red nail polish that matches her lip color.

Deana Lawson. Hair Advertisement. 2005. Pigment print. Courtesy the artist; Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York; and David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles. © Deana Lawson

The first museum survey dedicated to the work of Deana Lawson (b. 1979, Rochester, NY), this exhibition presents the work of a singular voice in photography today. For more than 15 years, Lawson has been exploring and challenging conventional representations of Black life through photography, drawing on a wide spectrum of photographic languages, including the family album, studio portraiture, staged tableaux, documentary pictures, and appropriated images.

Engaging acquaintances as well as strangers she meets in cities across Africa and the diaspora, Lawson uses imagery to build extended families of strangers in living rooms, kitchens, and backyards from Brooklyn to New Orleans, Haiti to Ethiopia, and Brazil to the Democratic Republic of Congo. The artist meticulously poses her subjects in highly staged photographs that weave together narratives of family, love, and desire, creating what she describes as “a mirror of everyday life.” In the artist’s own words, “it’s about setting a different standard of values and saying that everyday Black lives, everyday experiences, are beautiful, and powerful, and intelligent.”

Through a selection of more than 50 works from 2004 to the present, Deana Lawson features the full range of the artist’s career to date and establishes a narrative arc of her expansive vision for the first time. The exhibition represents a return to PS1 for Lawson, whose photographs were featured in the museum’s signature exhibition series Greater New York in 2010 and 2015.


April 13–September 5, 2022




22-25 Jackson Avenue Queens, NY 11101


This nationally touring exhibition was co-organized with the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston (ICA), where it was on view from November 4, 2021 to February 27, 2022. The exhibition will travel to the High Museum of Art, Atlanta from October 7, 2022 to February 19, 2023.

Deana Lawson is organized by Peter Eleey, Curator-at-Large, UCCA Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing and Shanghai, and Eva Respini, Barbara Lee Chief Curator, ICA/Boston, with Anni Pullagura, Curatorial Assistant, ICA/Boston.


The exhibition is made possible with major support from the Henry Luce Foundation and The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.

Significant support for the MoMA PS1 presentation is provided by Robert and Jamie Soros. Additional funding is provided by Jarl and Pamela Mohn.

Installation Views

Selected Works