Kamoinge’s Harlem: Then and Now brings together artists whose works bear photographic witness to the changes that have occurred in Harlem, over the course of nearly seven decades.
Through unbridled, singular creativity; authenticity; and respect, the photographers’ chronicles of Harlem are definitive representations of the community’s many facets, through the eras, until the present day.
Kamoinge’s mission is to “HONOR, document and preserve the history and culture of the African Diaspora with integrity and insight for humanity through the lens of Black Photographers.”
Kamoinge emerged in 1963 when two groups of New York City based African American photographers came together in the spirit of friendship and sought artistic equality and empowerment. They chose the name Kamoinge, meaning “a group of people acting together” in the Kikuyu language of Kenya, to reflect their commitment to supporting one another and photography’s power as an independent art form that depicts Black communities as they saw and experienced them, in contrast to how they were often negatively portrayed in art, media, and popular culture.
Kamoinge embraced a philosophy of art, shaped by photography’s source, range and influence on the individual uplift and social reform, established by Frederick Douglass, a statesman and abolitionist, who was also the most photographed person in the 19th century. Consistent with Black visual culture’s rich history and photography’s legacy, Kamoinge members continue to have distinctive careers within fine art, photojournalism, and commercial arenas.
Adger Cowans is a fine art photographer and abstract expressionist painter. He has experimented with a myriad of mediums over his artistic career. Renowned in the world of photography and fine art, his works have been shown at the George Eastman House, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, International Museum of Photography, Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney, the Getty, the Cleve-land Museum of Art, Harvard Fine Art Museum, Detroit Art Institute, James E. Lewis Museum and numerous other art institutions.
After leaving Ohio University with a BFA in photography, Cowans worked with Life magazine photographer Gordon Parks before entering the United States Navy in 1958. Throughout his impressive career Cowans has received many awards. Among the most prestigious was the Lorenzo il Magnifico alla Carriera in recognition of a distinguished career at the 2001 Florence Biennale of Contemporary Art. He also received The Lifetime Achievement Award from Howard University.
Salimah Ali has always possessed the spirit of creativity. This native New Yorker is a graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology with a major in Photography. She has been a featured photographer in many exhibits across the country and she is an award-winning photographer. Her work has appeared in the following national publications: Essence, Ms., Black Enterprise, USA Today, Newsday, the New York Times, LA Times, and the Washington Post.
Gerald Cyrus began exploring photography in Los Angeles, the place of his birth. In 1990, he moved to New York City to pursue a Master of Fine Arts degree from the School of Visual Arts (SVA). While there, he interned at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and began work on Kin-ship, a project focusing on African American family life. Throughout the 90s, he also worked on projects documenting Harlem's nightclubs and street life, New York's subways, and Black commu-nities around the southern United States.
In 2000, Cyrus moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and began photographing in the post-industrial city of Camden, New Jersey, just across the Delaware River. He has also photographed extensively in Bahia, Brazil. Cyrus has been an artist-in-residence at Light Work in Syracuse, New York and the Sacatar Foundation in Bahia, Brazil. He has also been awarded artist’s fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts and the Pew Foundation.
His work is in several collections including the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Museum of the City of New York, the New Orleans Museum of Art and the Wadsworth Atheneum. Cyrus is the author of Stormy Monday: New York’s Uptown Jazz Scene, Portrait of Camden in Photographs, 2001-2008, and Harlem Nights, 1990-2001.
Collette V. Fournier has an MFA in Visual Arts from Vermont College and a BS from Rochester Institute of Technology in Communications and Photographic Illustration. Born in Harlem, she grew up in Brooklyn and Queens, New York. She is the retired staff photographer from Rockland Community College (RCC) and serves as an adjunct in the Photography Department. Fournier worked as a staff photographer for the Rockland Journal-News, the Bergen Record, about...time magazine, and freelanced for the New York Post.
Fournier curated several exhibitions including a multi-sited exhibition There is a World Through Our Eyes: Perceptions and Visions of the African American Photographer exhibited at RCC, the Arts Council of Rockland (ACOR), Arts Alliance of Haverstraw (AAH!), Rockland Center for the Arts (ROCA), and Blue Hill in 1993 in Rockland County.
She has had fifteen one-woman exhibitions and participated in over forty group shows. She vigorously exhibits her photography and was the recipient of the prestigious Rockland Arts Council County Executive Award.
As a Soros fellow, she documented post hurricane Katrina New Orleans. Her award-winning documentation of A Ripple of Thunder: Black Motorcyclists in America was recently exhibited in Photoville Fences 9th Edition. She has written a book on her forty-year journey through photography. Fournier’s photography work is collected in the Photography Collections Preservation Project, Social Documentary Network, Brooklyn Museum of Art, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Smithsonian Institute, WDC, Finkelstein Memorial Library, Women International Archive, and in private collections.