I wish I was in New York to see this show. It runs through the 22nd. It is a rare opportunity to see this remarkable work from the Kamoinge photographers’ collective at the National Arts Club in New York.
The quotes are from a superb article in The Root by Veronica Webb:
Long before social media liberated unadulterated images of black women’s beauty, there was Kamoinge.
The Kamoinge photographers collective, founded in Harlem in 1963 under the direction of the venerable photographer Roy DeCarava, author of The Sweet Flypaper of Life, (has opened) its newest exhibition, “Black Women: Power and Grace,” Thursday night at the National Arts Club in New York.
For Kamoinge, whose name comes from the Kenyan Gikuyu word meaning “people working together,” addressing issues around the lack of black photographers, as well as counteracting damaging stereotypical images with positive images of our beauty and culture, are as pressing for today as they were when Kamoinge’s first exhibition dedicated to the subject, “The Negro Woman,” opened in 1965.
Elegant photographs of black women, powerfully poised while tackling the everyday struggles of life, like taking the bus, showed our grace and glory, with black women shining in some of our nation’s darkest hours.
That same spirit of defiance, self-invention and affirmation inspired the newest show, “Black Women: Power and Grace.”
“Tell a friend, anyone who loves art, teenagers, anyone struggling with identity, or someone who needs some artistic inspiration,” wrote co-organizer and Kamoinge Vice President Russell Frederick via email regarding the show. “This exhibit is one for all generations to appreciate.”
There’s a lot to celebrate here—namely, the four new female members of Kamoinge on exhibit.
Lola Flash explores LGBTQ themes. Delphine Diallo’s 2017 Women of New York portrait of a young Muslim girl is a particular standout, as is Delphine Fawundu’s self-portrait, What Do They Call Me, My Name Is Aunt Sara. Laylah Amatullah Barrayn’s images of religious and spiritual life in Senegal won her a coveted place in the collective among other longtime members like Ming Smith, the first black woman to have work purchased and exhibited by New York City’s Museum of Modern Art.
Barrayn told the New York Times: “I’ve been watching Kamoinge for most of my career, and I’ve seen its growth. I always felt being a part of Kamoinge was so far-fetched because there weren’t many women in the group.”…
Betty Shabazz exiting Malcolm X’s funeral—a regal vision of strength and beauty; crying, yet composed, in the face of unspeakable outrage…
Photographer Cowans, 81, the co-founder and president of Kamoinge, who authored the image of Betty Shabazz at her husband’s funeral, told the Times: “Nothing like that had been done in the community before. … The black woman has been underrepresented. Here we are today, and we are still looking at black women negatively. We wanted to show their beauty and power.”