Dawoud Bey began his career in 1975 photographing in Harlem, New York. That work was later exhibited in his first one-person exhibition, "Harlem, USA" at the Studio Museum in Harlem in 1979. In addition to numerous solo exhibitions at museums and galleries worldwide, Bey’s works are included in the permanent collections of numerous museums, both in the United States and abroad, including the Addison Gallery of American Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Brooklyn Museum, the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Guggenheim Museum, the High Museum of Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, the Museum of Modern Art, NY, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and other museums world wide.
His museum based projects have been concerned with using the museum as an active and collaborative space for producing work as well as enhancing the participation of often overlooked audiences and communities in the institutional space through their participation in his projects.
Bey received his MFA from Yale University School of Art and has been honored with numerous fellowships and honors over the course of his long career, including the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship and a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. He is professor of art and Distinguished College Artist at Columbia College Chicago and is represented by Mary Boone Gallery, Rena Bransten Gallery and Stephen Daiter Gallery.