Photography professor Curtis Willocks was honored by Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer on Friday, September 14 as a cultural innovator and for his role in the vibrant cultural life of Manhattan communities. The event, part of the kick-off for the African American Parade 2018, took place at the Schomburg Center for Research in African American Culture. Many of his students and fellow faculty members, beaming with pride, shared in the experience.
“Curtis is extremely well respected. To have him on the list is an honor for all of us,” said the Manhattan Borough President. “He’s being honored for his art and teaching.”
“This recognition suits Curtis perfectly,” says Photography Prof. Max Hilaire. “He’s an exemplary person. He creates sanctuaries to uplift his students. He is involved on so many fronts: FIT, FIT Photo Club, ICP, Photoville, Penumbra [Foundation], Chinatown, Coney Island, Fashion Industries High School and more. He maintains strong industry contacts with top manufacturers and their representatives.
“Above all, the quality of his photography reveals a kind heart, modest and enriching,” says Hilaire.
Loud cheers went out as Prof. Willocks was called to the podium.
Said Eliani Corriette, (Fashion Design, ’21), “I am so happy to be surrounded by other friends of Curtis’ and FIT alumni at this event. We got to see our dear friend and professor be honored for his work for the years he has put into the community. I have to admit, we were all prepared to make a lot of noise when they called his name to receive his award in hand!”
“Curtis Willocks is truly a one-of-a-kind professor, friend, and human being,” says Photography alumna Erin Lefevre (Photography ’13). “He repeatedly goes above and beyond to broaden his students’ perspectives and positively fosters their love for photography and creativity as artists.”
The honorees assembled for a photograph after the ceremony. Former Mayor David Dinkins was in attendance.
Willocks was among other bright lights honored from institutions as diverse as New York Philharmonic, Juilliard, Apollo Theater, Harlem Shakespeare Festival, Chamber Orchestra of New York Romare Bearden Foundation, and others.
“His selflessness, dedication, his passion as an educator is unlike anyone else I have ever encountered” says Lefevre. “It was so fulfilling to watch him be publicly recognized for all of the wonderful work he contributes to his communities.”
Says Prof. Hilaire, “Curtis has been a steadfast friend, honest, generous, humble, comforting with a magnetic approach.”
Photos by Rachel Ellner