Working Together: The Photographers of the Kamoinge Workshop at Whitney Museum of American Art, November 21, 2020 – March 28, 2021

“The Whitney presents Working Together: The Photographers of the Kamoinge Workshop, a groundbreaking exhibition featuring over 150 photographs by fourteen early members of the Kamoinge Workshop, nine of whom are living and working today. In 1963 a group of Black photographers based in New York came together in the spirit of friendship and exchange and chose the name Kamoinge—meaning ‘a group of people acting together’ in Gikuyu, the language of the Kikuyu people of Kenya—to reflect the essential ideal of the collective. Focusing on the first two decades of the collective (1963-1983), Working Together celebrates the Kamoinge Workshop’s important place in the history of photography and foregrounds the collective’s deep commitment to photography’s power and status as an independent art form.” — Whitney Museum of American Art

“It’s a privilege to present this exhibition in New York where the collective was founded, and where much of the artists’ influential, early work was created,” said Carrie Springer, assistant curator. “Each artist had his or her own sensibility and independent career, but they shared a commitment to photography as an art form, and the exhibition demonstrates their insightful and inventive portrayal of the communities they saw and participated in. As Louis Draper said in an introductory statement to Kamoinge Workshop Portfolio No. 1, the Kamoinge artists’ ‘creative objectives reflect a concern for truth about the world, about the society and about themselves.’ The photographs of these artists are as significant to the history of photography as they are to the current moment.”

Adger Cowans, Footsteps, 1960. Gelatin silver print, image: 8 1/4 × 13 5/16 in. (20.96 × 33.81 cm). Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Aldine S. Hartman Endowment Fund, 2018.201. © Adger Cowans
Albert Fennar, Salt Pile, 1971. Gelatin silver print, 6½ x 6½ in. (16.51 x 16.51 cm). Collection of Shawn Walker. © Miya Fennar and The Albert R. Fennar Archive
Anthony Barboza (b. 1944), Kamoinge Members, 1973. Gelatin silver print: sheet, 13 15/16 × 11 1/16 in. (35.4 × 28.1 cm); image, 9 13/16 × 10 in. (24.9 × 25.4 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase with funds from the Jack E. Chachkes Endowed Purchase Fund 2020.55. © Anthony Barboza
Beuford Smith, Two Bass Hit, Lower East Side, 1972. Gelatin silver print, sheet: 10 15/16 × 13 15/16 in. (27.78 × 35.4 cm), image: 9 3/8 × 13 1/2 in. (23.81 × 34.29 cm). Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Arthur and Margaret Glasgow Endowment, 2017.36. © Beuford Smith/Césaire
Herb Robinson, Brother & Sister, 1973. Gelatin silver print: sheet, 11 1/16 × 14 1/16 in. (28.1 × 35.7 cm); image, 6 5/8 × 9 in. (16.7 × 22.9 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase with funds from the Photography Committee 2020.46. © Herb Robinson
Herbert Randall (b. 1936), Untitled (Palmers Crossing, Mississippi), 1964. Gelatin silver print: sheet, 14 × 10 15/16 in. (35.6 × 27.8 cm); image, 13 1/2 × 8 7/8 in. (34.3 × 22.5 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase with funds from the Photography Committee 2020.57. © Herbert Randall
James “Jimmie” Mannas, No Way Out, Harlem, NYC, 1964. Gelatin silver print, mount: 15 1/16 × 11 in. (38.26 × 27.94 cm), image: 8 5/16 × 6 3/8 in. (21.11 × 16.19 cm). Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Arthur and Margaret Glasgow Endowment, 2019.201. © Jimmie Mannas
Louis Draper (American, 1935-2002), Untitled (Santos), 1968. Gelatin silver print, sheet: 8 15/16 × 5 7/8 in. (22.7 × 14.92 cm). Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, National Endowment for the arts Fund for American Art, 2013.151. © Courtesy of the Louis H. Draper Preservation Trust, Nell D. Winston, Trustee
Ming Smith, America seen through Stars and Stripes, New York City, New York, printed ca. 1976. Gelatin silver print, sheet: 15 3/4 × 20 in. (40.01 × 50.8 cm), image: 12 1/2 × 18 1/2 in. (31.75 × 46.99 cm). Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Adolph D. and Wilkins C. Williams Fund, 2016.241. © Ming Smith
Shawn Walker (b. 1940), Easter Sunday, Harlem (125th Street), 1972. Gelatin silver print: sheet, 7 3/4 × 9 3/4 in. (19.7 × 24.8 cm); image, 6 1/4 × 8 1/2 in. (15.9 × 21.6 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase with funds from the Photography Committee, the Jack E. Chachkes Endowed Purchase Fund, and the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation 2020.61. © Shawn Walker

The exhibition is organized by the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) and was curated by Dr. Sarah Eckhardt, associate curator of modern and contemporary art. The installation at the Whitney is overseen by Carrie Springer, assistant curator, with Mia Matthias, curatorial assistant.

Images courtesy Whitney Museum of American Art.