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Captivating Exhibition of Photographs by Ming Smith at June Kelly Gallery
Ming Smith, Paris Rainbow, 1977/2002. Hand-painted photograph with oils. Photo: Courtesy June Kelly Gallery.

NEW YORK, NY.- “Ming Smith Photographs:1977 – 2010,” a captivating exhibition that spans three decades of documenting diverse people and cultures throughout the world, opened at the June Kelly Gallery, 166 Mercer Street in New York on June 18. The works will remain on view through July 30.

Ming’s provocative images demonstrate a keen eye and an inexhaustible interest and empathy for the human condition and the drama of life. Ming has said that her “affair” with the camera began early on “with images solidly entrenched in my heart.”

The late photographer Gordon Parks admired Ming’s work and once wrote, “Wondrous images keep cropping up, stuffing themselves into her sight. She grasps them and gives eternal life to things that might well have been forgotten.”

Ming’s deceptively simple but evocative imagery hovers between figurative and abstraction as she documents people and life experiences — from storm clouds gathering over her hometown in the Midwest to such dramatic urban landscapes as Manhattan skyscrapers and Harlem sidewalks, awesome stone cathedrals in Europe and Latin America, Cairo’s crowded streets and bustling marketplaces in Senegal and Tokyo.

The artist’s sensibility captures the spirit and energy in transient moments, often coupling personal narrative with accessibility, as when she pays homage to the memory of a departed jazz musician in Flowers for Lionel Hampton.

Ming Smith
Ming’s photographs frequently reflect a predilection for haunting austerity with indelible effect. She heightens the drama with a heavy emphasis on the dark end of the tonal scale. In the dim light, the image often appears blurred, transitional, resonating with mystery.

Ming’s innovative pairing of camera and paintbrush puts further emphasis on her expressive, painterly way of shooting quickly, developing distortions purposefully and later giving the photograph a thin swath of paint to achieve an even more ephemeral effect, as in Convent Avenue – Harlem.

A native of Detroit, Michigan, Ming lives and works in New York City. She holds a B.S. degree from Howard University and has been the recipient of grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and New York State Council on the Arts. She is a member of the Kamoinge Workshop in Harlem, the crucial support and networking group of African-American photographers founded in the 1960's.

Ming’s work is represented in a number of public, corporate and private collections, including The Museum of Modern Art, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in New York, the Smithsonian Anacostia Museum & Center for African American History and Culture, Washington, DC, and the AT&T Corporation.

New York | June Kelly Gallery | Ming Smith |

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