Working Together is the first major museum exhibition about the Kamoinge Workshop, a groundbreaking African American photographers’ collective founded in New York City in 1963. The founders chose the name Kamoinge—meaning “a group of people acting and working together” in the Gikuyu language of Kenya—to reflect their shared dedication to community, collective action, and a global outlook.
As the Civil Rights era and the Black Arts Movement developed around them, Kamoinge members met to share work and engage in conversation about their 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. They sought mentorship from elders like the photographer Roy DeCarava and opened avenues for a subsequent generation of Black artists.
While Kamoinge remains active to this day with an expanded membership, this exhibition focuses on the Workshop’s formative decades—the 1960s and 1970s. The fourteen featured artists, nine of whom are living and working now, shaped Kamoinge together and remain central to its dialogue. They are Anthony Barboza, Adger Cowans, C. Daniel Dawson, Louis Draper, Albert R. Fennar, Ray Francis, Herman Howard, James Mannas Jr., Herbert Randall, Herb Robinson, Beuford Smith, Ming Smith, Shawn Walker, and Calvin Wilson.
Working Together: The Photographers of the Kamoinge Workshop is organized by the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.