Ming Smith, Self-Portrait (from the Self-Portrait Series), 1972, mixed media on gelatin silver print, 52 x 42 inches
Ming Smith, James Baldwin, 1978, archival pigment print, 20 x 24 inches
Ming Smith, Tina Turner, What’s Love Got To Do With It, 1984, archival pigment print, 24 x 20 inches
Ming Smith, Amen Corner Sisters, New York City, NY, 1973, gelatin silver print, 20 x 16 inches
Ming Smith, Coney Island Pas De Deux, 1976, archival pigment print, 20 x 16 inches.
Jenkins Johnson Gallery is pleased to announce a solo presentation of Ming Smith at Frieze, NY, May 1-5, Booth JAM6. Smith’s solo booth is part of the “Just Above Midtown (JAM)” section curated by Franklin Sirmans, Director, Perez Art Museum, Miami.
New York-based artist Ming Smith, who showed with JAM in 1981, will present photographs from the1970s-90s. She was the first black female photographer acquired by the Museum of Modern Art and the first female member of the influential photography collective, Kamoinge. Currently, she is being rediscovered and collected by major institutions and is featured in “Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power,” organized by Tate Modern, which just opened at Los Angeles’s The Broad. Recently, she was featured at London’s Serpentine Sackler Gallery exhibition, “Arthur Jafa: A Series of Improbable, YetExtraordinary Renditions.”
Smith documents everyday moments through her ethereal and transcendent vision. Her work challenges any limiting notion of what African- American photography should look like. She combines a deliberate blurriness with experimental post-production techniques including double exposed prints, collage, and painting, which amplify her photographs’ dream-like qualities. She captures the impressions of her world with intimacy and wonder. Gordon Parks wrote of Smith, stating her “wonderous imagery… gives eternal life to things that might well have been forgotten.”
Smith’s work respond to the struggles of city living, while also celebrating the community and pride produced by it. Taking her camera with her as she travelled the world with her husband, Jazz musician David Murray, these images are a chronicle of her discerning eye. Smith intermingles the resplendent and the magical with the trials of everyday life. Artistic, literary and musical icons, such as Duke Ellington, James Baldwin, Stevie Wonder and Tina Turner, are found alongside anonymous lovers and neighborhood children. Through her own visual language of light and shade, fleeting moments are made timeless. Susan Kismaric, Curator of Photography at the Museum of Modern Art, wrote of Ming’s work, “In an age when art is self-conscious and mercilessly analytical of itself and rarely gives us access to the artist’s life experience, the work of Ming Smith is welcome. Through her …photographs, we experience an intimacy with Smith’s emotional and intensely felt life. Her generosity in making it available to us is precious, for through her travels in the world, we can begin to measure our own journey and to access our own place here.”
Born in Detroit, Michigan and raised in Columbus, Ohio Ming Smith is a graduate of Howard University. She was also one of the first African American women to break the color barrier in modeling alongside Grace Jones and Toukie Smith. She was included in MoMA’s 2010 groundbreaking exhibition, “Pictures by Women: A History of Modern Photography,” and the Brooklyn Museum of Art’s 2017 exhibition, “We Wanted A Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965-85.” This Spring “Document Journal” will feature 12 never before seen images by her. Smith’s work is in museum collections including the Whitney Museum of American Art, the National Gallery of Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Detroit Institute of Arts, Virginia Museum of Fine Art, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, and the National Museum of African-American History and Culture.
Franklin Sirmans (Director, Pérez Art Museum Miami) pays homage to the pioneering nonprofit New York arts organization Just Above Midtown (JAM) and its founder Linda Goode Bryant. Formerly the Director of Education at the Studio Museum in Harlem, Bryant founded JAM in 1974. JAM pioneered the early work of now world-renowned African American contemporary artists, providing a much-needed platform for these artists to show and sell their work in New York. In acknowledgment of JAM’s contribution to the history of art, an entire room was devoted to Just Above Midtown in the widely acclaimed museum exhibition “Soul of a Nation – Art in the Age of Black Power”. The JAM section at Frieze New York features eight solo presentations by artists from Bryant’s original programming, through the support of invited galleries.