Kamoinge Members (detail), 1973, Anthony Barboza. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Eric and Jeanette Lipman Fund, 2019.249. © Anthony Barboza.

Conversations with Kamoinge: Photography from 1963 to Now


The Getty Center and Online

This is a past event

In 1963, a group of Black photographers in New York formed the Kamoinge Workshop. Since then, the collective—which is still active today—has captured the rich diversity of Black experiences through celebrated artistic and documentary photographs. In two panel discussions, early members of the Kamoinge Workshop reflect on their individual contributions, the group’s history, and their ongoing legacy. In between the programs, visit the exhibition Working Together: The Photographers of the Kamoinge Workshop on its opening day.

The in-person panels take place in the Museum Lecture Hall.

Part I:
10:30 a.m.–12:00 p.m.

Anthony Barboza joined Kamoinge in 1963 and was its president from 2005 to 2016. Along with Herb Robinson, he edited the book Timeless: Photographs by Kamoinge, which highlights the work and history of Kamoinge from its beginnings to its present form as Kamoinge, Inc. Barboza coordinated the production of the Kamoinge Artists’ Book, featuring portraits of the 14 core members. He also arranged group portraits during each of the International Black Photographers dinners, which were attended by multiple generations of photographers.

Dr. Sarah Eckhardt (moderator), associate curator of modern and contemporary art, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, joined the museum in 2011, when she began programming the museum’s photography gallery. She has curated the exhibitions Signs of Protest, Identity Shifts, and the series on The Black Photographers Annual, as well as Working Together: Louis Draper and the Kamoinge Workshop. She is the lead author of the exhibition catalog.

Miya Fennar is employed at Loyola Marymount University where she oversees capital projects and expenditures. In her spare time, Fennar manages the archive of her father, Albert R. Fennar, and advocates for the historical relevance of his photography and that of the original members of the Kamoinge Workshop.

Jimmie Mannas has taught filmmaking and held positions at the Fashion Institute of Technology and the Oakland District Community College system. His work has also been published in Life, Amsterdam News, Saturday Review, Onyx Magazine, and Liberator Magazine. Mannas served as president of the Kamoinge Workshop in the mid-1960s as well as president of the International Black Photographers in the 1970s.

Herb Robinson was one of the early members of the Kamoinge Workshop. Throughout his career, his work has encompassed portraiture, street photography, social commentary, and abstraction, much of which has been influenced by the jazz aesthetic. In 2015 Robinson and Anthony Barboza co-edited Timeless: Photographs by Kamoinge, the first retrospective publication dedicated to the group’s history and work. Robinson’s work was recently included in the exhibition Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power.

Part II:
2:00 p.m.–3:30 p.m.

Dr. LeRonn P. Brooks (moderator) is the associate curator for modern and contemporary collections (specializing in African American collections) at the Getty Research Institute (GRI). At the GRI, Brooks is the lead-curator for the new African American Art History Initiative (AAAHI) and is charged with building collections—sourcing original art historical documents and acquiring artist archives—and organizing programming related to African American art. His interviews, essays on African American art, poetry, and photography have appeared in publications for The Studio Museum in Harlem, The New Museum, Socrates Sculpture Park and The New York Times among others.

Adger Cowans, a fine arts photographer, a founding member of Kamoinge, and abstract expressionist painter, attended Ohio University where he received a BFA in photography and attended the School of Motion Picture Arts and the School of Visual Arts in New York. While serving in the United States Navy, he worked as a photographer before moving to New York, where he later worked with Life magazine photographer Gordon Parks and fashion photographer Henri Clarke. Cowans is the current president of Kamoinge and the recipient of a John Hay Whitney Fellowship and the Martin Luther King Jr., Caesar Chavez, Rosa Parks Visiting Scholars Award, Wayne State University.

Herb Randall worked alongside other founders of Kamoinge. During the workshop’s early years in 1964-1966, Randall worked as a freelance photographer and photojournalist where many of his photos were featured as covers of the NAACP’s The Crisis, which is now the nation's oldest African American publication. Randall’s documentation of “Freedom Summer” established the largest body of work from the civil rights movement that documents the activity of a single town. He also served as a photographic consultant for the National Media Center Foundation for nine years. Randall’s work has been exhibited at galleries across the country, including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Baltimore’s Cultural Arts Gallery, and the Brooklyn Museum.

Ming Smith joined the Kamoinge Workshop in 1972, which expanded her ideas about photography as an art form. Her work appears in all four volumes of The Black Photographers Annual, 1973 and 1980 (a distinction shared with only one other Kamoinge member, Beuford Smith). In the mid-1970s she responded to a call for portfolios at the Museum of Modern Art, and in 1979 she became the first African American female photographer to have her work purchased for the MoMA collection.

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