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Inspired by painter David Driskell, the Kamoinge Workshop photographers, and the book Black Futures by Kimberly Drew and Jenna Wortham, the museum has partnered with community organizations ArtWorks, Cincy Nice, OhioDance, the Robert O’Neal Multicultural Art Center, and WordPlay Cincy to create the Black Futures Series. This multifaceted series of happenings and conversations engages local, established and aspiring Black visual and performing artists in building mentor networks, creating and occupying creative platforms within and beyond arts institutions, sharing histories, and nurturing artistic growth and excellence.

There are four main areas of collective action in the Black Futures Series, each offering many ways to engage. Links in the brief descriptions below provide event details—please join us!


Active Imagination: ArtWorks Youth Artist Exhibition Program

Over seven weeks, local artists Briana Davis, Louis Rideout, Frank Duane Young, and Allen Woods mentor aspiring young African American artists on process and practice, culminating in group exhibitions at ArtWorks and the Cincinnati Art Museum. On Thursday, April 28, meet the artists and celebrate their work installed alongside CAM’s 10x10 Teen Art Expo, in CAM’s Alice F. and Harris K. Weston Gallery. Then join us on Friday, April 29, for the opening of Active Imagination and artist talks at ArtWorks V2 Gallery—part of a festive night of art and jazz at the museum and in Walnut Hills. 

Creativity in Dialogue

Join us on free Thursday evenings at CAM as CPS Aiken New Tech High School students bring the galleries to life with spoken word performances inspired by the artworks of Driskell and Kamoinge, brought to you in partnership with the WordPlay Writer’s Room program, on April 14, April 21, and April 28. On Friday, April 29, start your night at CAM with food, free jazz, and pop-up experiences in the galleries during Art After Dark: Sight, Sound & Jazz. Then follow the crowds to the Walnut Hills business district to experience the Black Futures Series neighborhood jazz progressive, brought to you in partnership with Cincy Nice.

Past, Present, Future

Reflect on the history, present, and future centrality of Black creativity in Cincinnati and beyond. On Thursday, April 14, join Toilynn O’Neal of the Robert O’Neal Multicultural Arts Center as she leads a distinguished panel of Black artists—including Cincinnati-born Kamoinge Workshop photographer, Beuford Smith—in a conversation about the past, present, and future of Black arts collectives in Cincinnati. On Sunday, May 8, experience the premiere of choreographer Countess V. Winfrey’s site-specific commissioned dance work, Homage: What was, Is, To Come. Learn more with Winfrey’s artist talk and the Artist Pathways panel. You can also listen back to Kamoinge photographer Shawn Walker’s reflections on art, film and the Kamoinge Workshop, and take in Halima Taha’s post-film comments on Black Art: In the Absence of Light (dir. Sam Pollard, 2021) in the Black Futures Series edition of Moving Images.

An Archive

In the spirit of creating opportunity and sharing histories, the museum issued a Call to Artists requesting proposals for documentation of the Black Futures Series in forms that honor the themes of the series while lending lasting visibility to participants’ collective actions. The Black Futures Series partner committee selected a proposal for an artist’s book by Cincinnati artist Asa Featherstone, IV. Say hello to Asa at Black Futures Series events throughout the spring, and look for his book—which will be distributed free to program participants and select libraries and archives—this fall.  



Black Futures Series sponsored by:



Additional support has been provided by Ohio Humanities, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the federal ARP Act of 2021.

Ohio Humanities Council OH SHARP


We are grateful to Kimberly Drew and Jenna Wortham for allowing us to name the Black Futures Series in homage to their book, Black Futures.