Working Together: The Photographers of the Kamoinge Workshop

February 25, 2022–May 15, 2022

Western & Southern Galleries (Gallery 232). Ticketed. Free for members.

Friends of Photography | Friends of African American Art

 

Cognizant of the forces for change revolving around [us], we dedicated ourselves to “speak of our lives as only we can.” This was our story to tell and we set out to create the kind of images of our communities that spoke of the truth we’d witnessed...

– Louis Draper, founding member of Kamoinge, 1963

 

Working Together is the first major museum exhibition about the groundbreaking African American photographers’ collective, the Kamoinge Workshop. More than 150 photographs by fifteen of the group’s early members—Anthony Barboza, Adger Cowans, Danny Dawson, Roy DeCarava, Louis Draper, Al Fennar, Ray Francis, Herman Howard, Jimmie Mannas Jr., Herb Randall, Herb Robinson, Beuford Smith, Ming Smith, Shawn Walker, and Calvin Wilson—form a significant and overdue appreciation of Kamoinge’s layered and expansive history.

Founded in New York in 1963, the group chose 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 and collective action. In weekly meetings, members shared work and engaged in incisive conversation about their personal artistic goals and the meaning of their endeavor as a group—including youth mentorship and the creation of exhibition spaces and publication platforms for Black photographers. In a diverse range of personal styles, they produced artistically superlative, formally inventive imagery dealing with human relationships, political life, the cultural scene, and the notion of global Black experience.

Working Together: The Photographers of the Kamoinge Workshop is organized by the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.