Ming Smith Exhibition
This event has ended.
Steven Kasher Gallery presents Ming Smith, the first major retrospective of the photographer’s work. The exhibition features over 75 vintage black and white prints which span her entire career, from early interiors and streetscapes of the 1970s to the ongoing large-scale Transcendence series. Today there is great momentum to correct deeply entrenched racial and gender imbalances within the photographic canon. Ming Smith is key among the photographers who are due belated recognition. Ming’s unique vision and surreal touch push back against reductive expectations of “black photography.” Her work challenges any limiting notion of what African-American photography should look like. Her work is personal and expressive without veering into sentimentality.
Ming Smith is the only original female member of the renowned African-American photography collective Kamoinge. The early charge of Kamoinge members was to challenge negative representations of African-Americans in photography. Smith’s work is less focused on documenting black life than creating a personal response to that life. Her shooting style often results in out-of-focus images in which the finer details of figure and background are obscured. This deliberate blurriness creates a half-abstract effect which lends her work an instantly recognizable and utterly unique dream-like feeling. This magical quality is amplified in some cases by Smith’s experimental post-production techniques including double exposed prints, collage, and painting on prints.
Her work was first published in the Black Photographer’s Annual in 1973. After submitting her work to an open call for portfolios, in 1975 Smith became the first African-American female photographer to be acquired by MoMA. Almost 35 years later, her importance was finally recognized by her inclusion in MoMA’s 2010 groundbreaking exhibition Pictures by Women: A History of Modern Photography.
The majority of the images in our exhibition were photographed in Harlem and other New York neighborhoods in the 1970s and beyond. Images from Europe and Africa date from the 1980s. The Transcendence series of the 1980s portrays a carnival in Columbus, Ohio, her hometown. Also included are works from the August Wilson series shot in Pittsburgh in the early 1990s.
Ming Smith’s work is held in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Virginia Museum of Fine Art, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, the National Museum of African-American History and Culture and the AT&T Corporation. The monograph A Ming Breakfast: Grits and Scrambled Moments was published in 1992.
from January 13, 2017 to February 18, 2017
Opening Reception on 2017-01-13 from 18:00 to 20:00