Ming Smith (b. Detroit, Michigan) documents everyday moments through her ethereal and transcendent vision, combining a deliberate blurriness with experimental post-production techniques including double exposed prints, collage, and painting, amplifying the works’ dream-like qualities.
Smith was the first black female photographer acquired by the Museum of Modern Art and the first female member of the influential Black photography collective, Kamoinge. She was one of the first African American women to break the color barrier in modeling alongside Grace Jones and Toukie Smith. Gordon Parks wrote of Smith, stating her “wonderous imagery… gives eternal life to things that might well have been forgotten.” Her works 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, these images are a chronicle of her discerning eye.
Raised in Columbus, Ohio, Ming Smith is a graduate of Howard University. She was included in MoMA’s 2010 groundbreaking exhibition, Pictures by Women: A History of Modern Photography, as well as the Brooklyn Museum of Art’s 2017 exhibition, We Wanted A Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965-85. In May 2019, Smith was awarded the 2019 Frieze New York Stand Prize for our presentation of her work in the Just Above Midtown section at Frieze New York curated by Franklin Sirmans. In Fall 2019, we featured her work at Frieze Masters in London. Smith was featured in Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power organized at the de Young Museum, after presentations at Tate Modern, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Brooklyn Museum of Art, The Broad, and the Museum of Fine Arts Houston. Smith is featured in Working Together: Louis Draper and the Kamoinge Workshop which began at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, and now open at the Whitney Museum of American Art, followed by the J. Paul Getty Museum, and the Cincinnati Art Museum.
Smith is among the International Center for Photography’s 2020 Infinity Award recipients. In November 2020, Ming Smith released her book, Ming Smith: An Aperture Monograph. She was recently featured in Down Time: On the Art of Retreat at the Smart Museum of Art. Smith’s work is in museum collections including the National Gallery of Art, J. Paul Getty Museum, Whitney Museum of American Art, Brooklyn Museum of Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Detroit Institute of Arts, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, and Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.