Sarah Lewis is an assistant professor of history of art and architecture and African and African-American studies at Harvard University. She is the author of The Rise: Creativity, the Gift of Failure, and the Search for Mastery, a layered, story-driven investigation of how innovation, discovery, and the creative process are all spurred on by advantages gleaned from the improbable, the unlikely, even failure.
Lewis attended the Brearley School from kindergarten to high school. She later received her bachelor's degree from Harvard University, an M.Phil from Oxford University, and her Ph.D. from Yale University. Her work has been supported by the Ford Foundation, the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, the Hutchins Center at Harvard University, the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance & Abolition, and the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library.
Research and writing
Lewis’ most recent book is the Los Angeles Times bestseller, The Rise: Creativity, the Gift of Failure, and the Search for Mastery (Simon & Schuster), a layered, story-driven investigation of how innovation, discovery, and the creative progress are all spurred on by advantages gleaned from the improbable foundations. Called “lyrical and engaging” and “strikingly original” by The New York Times, The Rise has been translated into 6 languages to date. Her upcoming book, Black Sea, Black Atlantic, will be published by Harvard University Press.
In 2015-16, she was on leave from Harvard as a Cullman Fellow at the New York Public Library finishing another book on the role of photography in exposing the fiction of racial categories. Her essays on race, contemporary art and culture have been published in many journals as well as the New York Times, the New Yorker, Artforum, Art in America and in publications for the Smithsonian, the Museum of Modern Art, and Rizzoli. She was the guest editor for Aperture’s landmark Summer 2016 “Vision & Justice” issue, which focuses on the role of photography in the African American experience. The issue received the 2017 Infinity Award for Critical Writing and Research from the International Center of Photography. It also became required reading for incoming freshmen at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts for the 2016-2017 academic year. She also wrote the foreword for a new book of Carrie Mae Weems’s Kitchen Table Series. In January 2018, she took over the New Yorker Photo Department's Instagram account to teach viewers about the relationship between photography and culture. She used images for her class "Vision and Justice," which explores the intersection of art, race, and justice. Explaining her project, Lewis wrote that she forced herself to choose 15 images that "chronicle America's journey toward a more inclusive level of citizenship." She posted an 1849 photo of Frederick Douglass, who was the most photographed American man in the nineteenth century.
She is a frequent speaker and has lectured at many universities and conferences such as TEDGlobal, SXSW, PopTech, ASCD and for a wide range of organizations from the Aspen Institute to the Getty to The Federal Reserve Bank.
Lewis is the guest editor of the landmark “Vision & Justice” issue of Aperture which received the 2017 Infinity Award for Critical Writing and Research from the International Center of Photography.
- "Amazon.co.uk: Sarah Lewis: Books, Biography, Blogs, Audiobooks, Kindle". www.amazon.co.uk. Retrieved 2018-06-12.
- Sandage, Scott A. (April 3, 2014). "Epic Fail". the New York Times. New York, NY. Retrieved January 5, 2017.
- Sarah Lewis CV
- "Vision & Justice". Aperture. Vol. 223. Summer 2016. Retrieved January 5, 2017.
- Weems, Carrie Mae (2016). Carrie Mae Weems: Kitchen Table Series. Italy: Damiani/Matsumoto Editions. ISBN 9788862084628.
- "About - SARAH ELIZABETH LEWIS". SARAH ELIZABETH LEWIS. Retrieved 2018-06-12.