At the nexus of art, fashion and academia, Dario Calmese is an artist, creative director, and urbanist currently based in New York City. In 2020 he made history as the first Black photographer to shoot a cover for Vanity Fair in its 106-year history with his portrait of Oscar-winning actress, Viola Davis. During 2020 he also launched his widely-acclaimed podcast, The Institute of Black Imagination, featuring conversations from the Pool of Black Genius through the lens of design.

Dario serves on the global advisory board for Estee Lauder Companies and is a professor at The New School’s Parsons School of Design in New York City. He is also a NYC Urban Design Forum Fellow and his show direction for the fashion brand Pyer Moss has been consistently hailed in Vogue and The New York Times as the “best show of Fashion Month.” Most recently, he collaborated with Adobe Lightroom to design presets specifically for people of color.

Classically trained in the performing arts, Dario uses his knowledge of movement, gesture, and psychology to create complex characters and narratives that explore history, race, class, and what it means to be human. Dario received his master’s in photography from the School of Visual Arts and his bachelors in psychology at Rockhurst University in Kansas City.

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