New York University will host a discussion of Gordon Parks’ The Learning Tree, featuring conceptual artist Hank Willis Thomas and Columbia University researcher Abbe Schriber, on Wed., Nov. 20.

Gordon Parks, center, with actors from "The Learning Tree". Fort Scott, KS, 1969. Image courtesy of the Gordon Parks Foundation

New York University will host a discussion of Gordon Parks’ The Learning Tree, featuring conceptual artist Hank Willis Thomas and Columbia University researcher Abbe Schriber, on Wed., Nov. 20, 6:30-9 p.m. at NYU’s Kimmel Center for University Life (60 Washington Square South, Eisner and Lubin Auditorium, 4th Floor [at LaGuardia Place]).

“Gordon Parks’ The Learning Tree: Fifty Years Later,” hosted by NYU’s Institute of African America Affairs and Center for Black Visual Culture, is free and open to the public.

Gordon Parks wrote, directed, and scored the first major Hollywood film to be directed by a Black American—The Learning Tree (1969). As part of the celebration of the movie’s 50th anniversary, Thomas and Schriber will discuss its ongoing relevance. In addition, the event will include a screening of selected clips from the film.

Hank Willis Thomas, the 2019 Gordon Parks Fellow, is a conceptual artist working primarily with themes related to perspective, identity, commodity, media, and popular culture. His work is included in numerous public collections including: the Museum of Modern Art in New York; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York; the Whitney Museum of American Art; the Brooklyn Museum; Atlanta’s High Museum of Art; and the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C.

Abbe Schriber is a doctoral candidate in art history and archaeology at Columbia University. Her dissertation on David Hammons and Black artists’ experimental art-making in 1970s-80s New York has been supported by institutions such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Luce/ACLS Predoctoral Dissertation Fellowship in American Art, and the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Her writing has appeared in Texte zur KunstArtforumArt in America, and the Brooklyn Rail, and has been commissioned by institutions such as the Berlin Biennale, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Studio Museum in Harlem.

The event is in collaboration with the Gordon Parks Foundation and in conjunction with the exhibition Exodusters: Hank Willis Thomas at the Gordon Parks Foundation (48 Wheeler Avenue, Pleasantville, New York [October 25–December 20]) and co-sponsored by NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts’ Department of Photography & Imaging.

To RSVP, email or call 212.998.IAAA (4222) and include the event name and date in your message. Space is limited. Seating is on first come first served basis. Subways: A, B, C, D, E, F, M (W. 4th St.)

The Institute of African American Affairs (IAAA) at New York University was founded in 1969 to research, document, and celebrate the cultural and intellectual production of Africa and its diaspora in the Atlantic world and beyond. IAAA is committed to the study of Blacks in modernity through concentrations in Pan-Africanism and Black Urban Studies. For more, go to

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