Feeling the Future: Witness the Evolution of Ming Smith’s Vibrant Practice

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Contemporary Arts Museum Houston // May 26, 2023 – October 01, 2023

Ming Smith, Acid Rain (“Mercy, Mercy Me,” Marvin Gaye), 1977. Archival pigment print, 24 x 36 inches. Image and work courtesy Ming Smith Studio.Ming Smith, Acid Rain (“Mercy, Mercy Me,” Marvin Gaye), 1977. Archival pigment print, 24 x 36 inches. Image and work courtesy Ming Smith Studio.

Ming Smith, Chicago Art Ensemble, MalachiFavors (Chicago),1979. Archival pigment print, 40 x 60 inches. Courtesy Ming Smith Studio, ART IS BOND, and Barbara Davis Gallery. Image courtesy Ming Smith Studio.Ming Smith, Chicago Art Ensemble, MalachiFavors (Chicago),1979. Archival pigment print, 40 x 60 inches. Courtesy Ming Smith Studio, ART IS BOND, and Barbara Davis Gallery. Image courtesy Ming Smith Studio.

Ming Smith, Red Hot Jazz II, 1979. Archival pigment print, 24 x 36 inches. Image and work courtesy Ming Smith StudioMing Smith, Red Hot Jazz II, 1979. Archival pigment print, 24 x 36 inches. Image and work courtesy Ming Smith Studio

Ming Smith, Amen Corner Sisters, Harlem, New York, 1976. Archival pigment print, 20 x 24 inches. Courtesy Ming Smith Studio.Ming Smith, Amen Corner Sisters, Harlem, New York, 1976. Archival pigment print, 20 x 24 inches. Courtesy Ming Smith Studio.

Ming Smith, “Transcendence, Turiya and Ramakrishna,” for Alice Coltrane, 2006. Archival pigment print, 36 x 46 inches. Image and work courtesy Ming Smith Studio.Ming Smith, “Transcendence, Turiya and Ramakrishna,” for Alice Coltrane, 2006. Archival pigment print, 36 x 46 inches. Image and work courtesy Ming Smith Studio.

Feeling the Future at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston explores artist Ming Smith’s unparalleled career and is Smith’s first solo exhibition at a major institution to survey her work from the early 1970s through the present. The exhibition encompasses a multitude of artistic expressions to represent Smith’s vibrant and multi-layered practice, which is grounded in portraiture, and amplifies the heartbeat of Black life in the United States.

Drawn from the full complexity of Smith’s oeuvre, Feeling the Future places works from the artist’s five decades of creation in conversation with one another, and the cultural movements she witnessed and participated in. Exploring themes such as Afrofuturism, Black cultural expression, representation and social examination, the exhibition offers a guided tour into unperceived moments of life as captured by one of the most profoundly gifted artists of her generation.

Feeling the Future includes Smith’s seminal photographic images, as well as her more recent work across media. Smith’s early images vibrate with the energy of her subjects—in carefully composed images, often developed or processed using techniques such as frame masking, hand-tinting, and superimposition, she blurs boundaries between the ethereal, tangible, and routine. Smith’s work uniquely embraces her subjects aesthetically and intellectually, through a style that is technically experimental and pointedly focused.

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