NEW YORK, NY.- Nicola Vassell Gallery
announced the representation of Ming Smith. Harlem-based, Detroit-born Ming Smith became a photographer when she was given a camera at a young age. She was the first female member to join Kamoinge, a collective of Black photographers in New York in the 1960s who documented Black life. Her work was first published in the Black Photographer's Annual in 1973 and she would go on to be the first Black woman photographer to be included in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art.
Her practice is a tale of five decades spent examining transitory occurrence-intervals at which figures blur, atmospheres alter, vistas haunt, souls whir, and opposites engage in allied work. Smith's photographic approach is both scientific and celestial, and experimentation and adventure mark her fascination with detail as it stretches across form and mood. Her dedication to music, dance, and theater underlines the synergistic excellence that characterizes her secondary, if metaphoric, occupations as anthropologist, historian, and poet.
Many of Smith's subjects are well-known Black cultural figures, such as Alice Coltrane, Grace Jones, Nina Simone and Tina Turner.
Smith was recently included in 'Soul of a Nation' at Tate Modern in collaboration with Brooklyn Museum, Crystal Bridges and The Broad. She was also featured in Brooklyn Museum's 'We Wanted A Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965-85.' Her work was exhibited in conjunction with Arthur Jafa's 'A Series of Utterly Improbable, Yet Extraordinary Renditions' at Serpetine Galleries, London; Julia Stoschek Collection, Berlin; Galerie Rodolfinium, Prague and Moderna Museet, Stockholm. Smith's work is in the collections of MoMA, the Whitney Museum 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. She was included in MoMA's 2010 seminal exhibition, 'Pictures by Women: A History of Modern Photography'.
"Smith had been living in New York for six years when she quietly became the first Black female photographer in MoMAs collection. Modeling to pay the bills, she immersed herself in Katherine Dunhams African dance technique and attended crits as the first female member of the Kamoinge Workshop, a collective of New York photographers convened under the guiding vision of Roy DeCarava and committed to the representation of Black dignity and humanity. The caliginous atmospheres and low tonalities of DeCaravas pictures resounded in a pair of male and female nudes from 1977 in Ming Smith: Evidence, Nicola Vassells inaugural exhibition."
- Chloe Wyma, Artforum