Working Together Louis Draper and the Kamoinge Workshop
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By Sarah Eckhardt
Working Togetheraccompanies the exhibition of African American photography to be presented by the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in January 2020. Both the exhibition and catalogue draw heavily on the museum’s complete archives of papers and photographs of Virginia artist Louis Draper (1935–2002)—a key founding member, who chronicled the Kamoinge Workshop’s formation and development. Focusing on the collective’s first twenty years, this catalogue includes more than 140 photographs by fourteen of the early members, including Draper, Anthony Barboza, Adger Cowens, Danny Dawson, Al Fennar, Ray Francis, Herman Howard, Jimmie Mannas, Herb Randall, Herb Robinson, Beuford Smith, Ming Smith, Shawn Walker, and Calvin Wilson. The preface by Deborah Willis is followed by essays that explore Draper’s life and work; the history of The Black Photographers Annual; Kamoinge’s position in contemporary studies of the history of photography; the notion of collectivity among African American artists in the 1960s and 1970s; the social and political context of Kamoinge’s formation, with special attention to the civil rights movement and the Black Arts Movement; jazz; and Kamoinge’s influence on contemporary African American photographers.