Nicola Vassell Gallery’s inaugural exhibition spans Ming Smith’s 50-year-career

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The New York gallery opens its doors today with Ming Smith: Evidence, featuring a combination of vintage silver gelatin prints and rarely-seen archival images

A new space committed to widening the lens of history opens in Chelsea, New York, today. Nicola Vassell Gallery presents Ming Smith: Evidence: its inaugural show featuring a combination of vintage silver gelatin prints and rarely-seen archival images that span half a century of Ming Smith’s extraordinary career. 

The Harlem-based, Detroit-born artist moved to New York City in her 20s. She became friends with Grace Jones, who invited her to Studio 54 the first night she performed there, and went on to photograph a number of well-known Black cultural figures, such as Alice Coltrane, Nina Simone and Tina Turner. In 1975, Smith became the first female member to join the Kamoinge Workshop, a collective of Black photographers working to reclaim the representations of their communities. And, in 1978, she became the first Black female photographer in MoMA’s collection. 

“I am delighted to inaugurate my new gallery with a solo presentation by Ming Smith, an artist I admire greatly,” said founder of the gallery Nicola Vassell, in a statement released alongside its launch. Vassell is also the founder of Concept NV, an art consultancy and curatorial agency established in 2013. She has worked closely with rapper, producer and art collector Kasseem “Swizz Beatz” Dean and partner Alicia Keys, to establish The Dean Collection and its contemporary art and music festival No Commission. The art dealer and curator has also worked as a director of New York’s Pace Gallery and Deitch Projects, as well as visiting lecturer at Sotheby’s Institute of Art.

The opening of the space marks an exciting new chapter in Vassell’s expansive career. “Ming embodies the spirit of the gallery and its journey to inception –  the irrepressible quest for truth and beauty. It is my honor to share this moment with her,” she said.

Ming Smith: Evidence is on show at Nicola Vassell Gallery from 20 May until 03 July 2021.

Located in Chelsea, New York, Nicola Vassell Gallery is committed to discourse that widens the lens of the history. Its focus is on developing an inter-generational, cross-disciplinary program of international artists and thinkers.
Marigold Warner

Marigold Warner joined the British Journal Photography in April 2018, and currently holds the position of Online Editor. She studied English Literature and History of Art at the University of Leeds, followed by an MA in Magazine Journalism from City, University of London. Her work has been published by titles including the Telegraph Magazine, Huck, Gal-dem, Disegno, and the Architects Journal.