Ming Smith "Evidence" @ Nicola Vassell Gallery, NY
Evidence at Nicola Vassell Gallery features a combination of rare, vintage silver gelatin and never-before-exhibited archival prints, spanning the arc of Ming Smith's fifty-year career. The assembled pictures exemplify the artist's keen, enduring eye and her use of the photographic medium to depict charged atmospheres and surreal states with a cast of evocative landscapes, blurred silhouettes, dynamic street scenes and revered cultural figures including, Brassaï, Grace Jones and Sun Ra.
Smith's lyrical narratives tease out the complex emotions and thoughts deeply embedded in the minds and environments of her subjects. In engaging the world around her, she makes perceptible much of the unseen psychological and social complexities that lurk beneath the surface. Her practice is a tale of several 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. Ultimately, Smith's work depicts the beauty of Black life and its struggle for visibility, over time, in the wider cultural landscape.