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Cincinnati Art Museum to display work of groundbreaking photographers’ collective Kamoinge Workshop Feb. 25–May 15, 2022

12/17/2021 12:00:00 AM

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CINCINNATI—The Cincinnati Art Museum will present the first major museum exhibition about the groundbreaking African American photographers’ collective in special exhibition Working Together: The Photographers of the Kamoinge Workshop, on view from Feb. 25–May 15, 2022.

This exhibition chronicles the formative years of the Kamoinge Workshop, a collective of Black photographers founded in New York in 1963. The group drew their name from the Gikuyu language of the Kikuyu people of Kenya. Meaning “a group of people acting or working together,” the word kamoinge captures a central commitment to community, collective action, self-representation, and a global outlook.

Working Together features more than 150 photographs by fourteen of the group’s early members, as well as the photographer Roy DeCarava—a formative influence and a key mentor in the Workshop’s first years.

In sections exploring Kamoinge photographers’ individual and group responses to themes of community, collective action, rights struggles and social change, the African diaspora, jazz, and photographic abstraction, this presentation focuses on the work of Anthony Barboza, Adger Cowans, Danny Dawson, Louis Draper, Al Fennar, Ray Francis, Herman Howard, Jimmie Mannas Jr., Herb Randall, Herb Robinson, Beuford Smith, Ming Smith, Shawn Walker, and Calvin Wilson. Nine of these artists—three of whom have close ties to Ohio—are still living and working now.

The photographs on view date primarily from the 1960s and 70s, a time of social upheaval and change, and cultural shifts of local and global scale. In these years the collective’s members met weekly to share and discuss their photographs, encourage a mutual pursuit of artistic innovation and excellence, and organize engagements with the community including youth mentorship and the creation of exhibition spaces and publication platforms for Black photographers. The exhibition includes an overview of many of the collective’s achievements during this time, including rare documentation of exhibitions, portfolios and publications.

Working Together presents a powerful artistic statement from the two decades at the heart of the Civil Rights and Black Arts Movements and forms an overdue tribute to the layered and remarkable work of this landmark collective.

Working Together: The Photographers of the Kamoinge Workshop is organized by the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA). It was displayed at the VMFA and the Whitney Museum of American Art before its presentation in Cincinnati and will conclude its run at the J. Paul Getty Museum from July 19–October 9, 2022.

Tickets are $12 for general admission, with discounted rates for students, children, and seniors. Admission is free for members. This exhibition will appear in the museum galleries alongside David Driskell: Icons of Nature and History, a special exhibition featuring 60 of Driskell’s vibrant paintings, prints, drawings and collages. All tickets grant admission to both exhibitions.

Though the artists worked in different media and with different artistic practices, the exhibitions explore several common themes. Visitors are encouraged to explore both bodies of work and enjoy the commonalities they may find, including an interactive station inviting the public to organize and share groupings of artwork to draw out themes and connections of significance to them.

A range of public programming and events in partnership with multiple community organizations will respond to and build upon the exhibitions’ shared themes of mentorship, community, collective action and the need for support and dedicated public platforms for young creatives and Black artists. Full details will be announced closer to the exhibition run.

Photography is allowed with no flash. On social media, share content from both exhibitions using #WorkingIcons.

In Cincinnati the exhibition is generously supported by the John A. Schroth Family Charitable Trust and presented by Procter & Gamble. Additional support provided by the Charles Scott Riley III Foundation.

 

About the Cincinnati Art Museum

The Cincinnati Art Museum is supported by the generosity of individuals and businesses that give annually to ArtsWave. The Ohio Arts Council helps fund the Cincinnati Art Museum with state tax dollars to encourage economic growth, educational excellence and cultural enrichment for all Ohioans. The Cincinnati Art Museum gratefully acknowledges operating support from the City of Cincinnati, as well as our members.

Free general admission to the Cincinnati Art Museum is made possible by a gift from the Rosenthal Family Foundation. Special exhibition pricing may vary. Parking at the Cincinnati Art Museum is free. Visit cincinnatiartmuseum.org for more information.

 

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