Experience commissioned, site-specific dance work. Learn more about Homage: What was, Is, To Come
In 2022, inspired by painter David Driskell, the Kamoinge Workshop photographers, and the book Black Futures by Kimberly Drew and Jenna Wortham, the museum 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 engaged 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 were four main areas of collective action in the Black Futures Series, each offering many ways to engage. Learn more—or revisit the events you participated in—by exploring the content above and below.
Over seven weeks, local artists Briana Davis, Louis Rideout, Frank Duane Young, and Allen Woods mentored aspiring young African American artists on process and practice, culminating in group exhibitions at ArtWorks and the Cincinnati Art Museum. On Thursday, April 28, 2022, the artists celebrated their work installed alongside CAM’s 10x10 Teen Art Expo, in CAM’s Alice F. and Harris K. Weston Gallery. On Friday, April 29, 2022, the public joined them 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.
On free Thursday evenings at CAM, CPS Aiken New Tech High School students brought the galleries to life with spoken word performances inspired by the artworks of Driskell and Kamoinge, produced in partnership with the WordPlay Writer’s Room program. Performances took place on April 14, April 21, and April 28. On Friday, April 29, we invited the public to start the 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, realized in partnership with Cincy Nice.
Reflect on the history, present, and future centrality of Black creativity in Cincinnati and beyond. On Thursday, April 14, 2022, Toilynn O’Neal of the Robert O’Neal Multicultural Arts Center led 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, 2022, audiences experienced 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.
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. Taking form as the book Yesterday, today and tomorrow, this physical record of the series is now included in collections of libraries and archives across the country.
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.
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.