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MING SMITH: Jazz Requiem – Notations in Blue

Information About the Event

On View

Buchwald-Wright Gallery, Free Admission

Artist

Ming Smith

Organized by

The Gund at Kenyon College. This exhibition is part of a simultaneous presentation of work by Ming Smith, also at the Columbus Museum of Art and the Wexner Center for the Arts at The Ohio State University.

Ming Smith: Jazz Requiem – Notations in Blue is part of the 2024 FotoFocus Biennial. Learn more about the program and related events.

Acknowledgements

The Gund programs and exhibitions are made possible, in part, by The Gund Board of Directors and the Ohio Arts Council.

This exhibition was made possible through generous support from the Terra Foundation for American Art.

Donors/supporters

Ohio Arts Council Logo
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Spanning from the 1970s to the present day, Jazz Requiem – Notations in Blue reflects on American artist Ming Smith’s early and formative years traveling in Europe and examines how these experiences have shaped her practice and continue to influence her more recent work.

Jazz Requiem – Notations in Blue is an invitation to explore Smith’s practice in relation to the complex notions of place and identity formation that shaped the early stages of her career. Smith came of age as an artist during a time when many Black visual artists, dancers, writers, musicians, and poets found Europe more receptive to their work, providing them with greater opportunities and the freedom to hone their craft. The exhibition underscores the profound influence of intuitive expressions found in dance and music, particularly jazz, as a throughline in her work. It also reveals how Smith draws from figures like Brassai and Cartier-Bresson, whose work she encountered firsthand while in Paris in the 1970s. This selection of images, many printed for the first time, aims to capture the intricacies of the Black experience, both subtle and stark, within and beyond specific localities. Her images are known for their elusive yet poignant depictions conveying the soon-vanishing qualities of a moment in movement.

Throughout her travels, the artist embodies a central tenet of the Black Arts Movement: the idea of “owning the images that we saw of ourselves.” She expanded photography beyond the so-called realism previously attributed to photographs of Black people as a means to document, catalog, and analyze them. Smith confronts notions of the gaze inherent to photography, thereby internalizing and subverting the medium's objectifying tendencies. Through experimentation and visual meditation, Smith positions herself as a vanguard, pursuing image-making as a way to remember, share, and deeply feel the world around her.

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Ming Smith, "Paris Painted," 1981, archival pigment. Wallpaper. Courtesy of Ming Smith Studio and The Gund at Kenyon College.

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Ming Smith, Untitled, no date, archival pigment. 60 x 48 in. Courtesy of Ming Smith Studio and The Gund at Kenyon College.

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Ming Smith, "Judith Jamison," 1981, archival pigment. 60 x 48 in. Courtesy of Ming Smith Studio and The Gund at Kenyon College.