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Dominique Luster joins Carrnegie Museum of Art as first Teenie Harris Archivist
Dominique Luster, the new Teenie Harris Archvist at Carnegie Museum of Art. Photo: Bryan Conley.

PITTSBURGH, PA.- Carnegie Museum of Art announces the appointment of Dominique Luster to the newly created position of Teenie Harris Archivist. Working with CMOA curatorial and education staff, Luster will manage and oversee the research, digitization, publication, and exhibition of the more than 70,000 images shot by Charles “Teenie” Harris from the 1930s to 1970s.

Luster studied Theatre Design and Technology at the University of Kentucky before moving to Pittsburgh to pursue her MLIS in Archives and Information Management at the University of Pittsburgh. “I was well aware of Teenie Harris as this legendary figure, a great photographer of the 20th-century black experience,” she said. “Moving to Pittsburgh, I saw a whole new dimension of Teenie, as a member of his community. Someone people remember, whose photographs they cherish.” Currently, she is Liaison Librarian for University of Pittsburgh Library System.

The central objective of this position is to increase and improve discoverability and accessibility of Harris’s work. Luster envisions international reach and programming for the Teenie Harris Archive. She plans to improve image metadata to assist in searches and develop a finding aid for the entire collection to aid researchers worldwide. “The Archive needs greater online access, and I will work to ensure that the full extent of its resources are made available online in a more searchable, structured format.” Other tasks ahead include working with the Harris negatives that have yet to be scanned and published online. Numbering over 10,000 images, they span the ’60s and ’70s, and include color images.

“As steward of the Teenie Harris Archive, the museum has an ongoing responsibility to research Harris’s unique and rich body of work, and make it available to scholars and a broad public. Luster’s position insures that this important work will continue” said Lynn Zelevansky, The Henry J. Heinz II Director of CMOA. “A grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and support from the foundations and individuals who matched it, made her position possible, and we are extremely grateful.”

Curator Louise Lippincott, who brought the Teenie Harris Archive to the museum’s collection, said “Dominique will carry on the great work of Kerin Shellenbarger and so many others who have created this powerful archive of images and memories. I am delighted that we have been able to create a permanent, fully endowed position that guarantees the future of Teenie Harris’s art.”

Charles “Teenie” Harris produced more than 70,000 images of Pittsburgh’s African American community as a photographer for the influential Pittsburgh Courier and as a freelancer. The photographs, taken from the 1930s to the 1970s, capture a period of momentous change for black Americans, and depict a black urban community that, in spite of segregationist policies and attitudes of midcentury America, was innovative, thriving, and proud. The museum acquired these negatives in 2001 from the Harris estate, and established the Teenie Harris Archive soon afterward.

The Teenie Harris Archivist position is endowed, made possible by an ambitious, $300,000 challenge grant by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the foundations and individuals who matched it.

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