Museum admission is free.

In Conversation | Ming Smith and James Bartlett

Join artist Ming Smith and exhibition curator James E. Bartlett for a walkthrough of the exhibition, Ming Smith: Feeling the Future.

Ming Smith: Feeling the Future explores Harlem-based artist Ming Smith’s unparalleled and under-recognized 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 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.

We encourage you also to join us for the exhibition’s opening reception from 7–9PM.

Ticket Information

This event is free to attend, but RSVPs are encouraged.


Location and Accessibility

This event will consist of a walkthrough of the exhibition in the Brown Foundation Gallery, located on the main level of the Museum.

Please review CAMH’s safety protocols here. For questions or concerns regarding safety or accessibility, contact YET Torres, Public Programs and CAMHLAB Manager, at

About Ming Smith

Harlem-based, Detroit-born, Ming Smith attended the famous Howard University, Washington, DC. Ming Smith became a photographer when she was given a camera, and was the first female member to join Kamoinge, a collective of Black photographers in New York in the 1960s. Smith would go on to be the first Black woman photographer to be included in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art.

Smith’s photography initially focused on black-and-white street photography, a format she described as “you have to catch a moment that would never ever return again, and do it justice.” She has often described her work as “celebrating the struggle, the survival and to find grace in it.” Many of Smith’s subjects were well-known Black cultural figures including Nina Simone, Grace Jones, and Alice Coltrane, who all lived in her neighborhood. Smith cites music—specifically jazz and the blues—as being a primary influence in her work. She also likens her work to the blues, saying, “in the art of photography, I’m dealing with light, I’m dealing with all these elements, getting that precise moment. Getting the feeling—to put it simply, these pieces are like the blues.”

As an artist, full recognition for Smith’s work only arrived recently in response to several high-profile exhibitions. She was included in MoMA’s 2010 seminal exhibition, Pictures by Women: A History of Modern Photography. She featured prominently in Working Together: The Photographers of the Kamoinge Workshop, organized by the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (Richmond) and presented by Whitney Museum of American Art (New York, New York) in 2020. Smith was more recently included in Soul of a Nation at Tate Modern in London, England (2017), which traveled to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas (2018), The Broad in Los Angeles, California (2019), Brooklyn Museum in New York (2019), deYoung Museum in San Francisco, California (2019), and Museum of Fine Arts Houston in Texas (2020). She was featured in We Wanted A Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965-85 at Brooklyn Museum (New York) in 2017. Smith’s work is included in the collections of MoMA (New York, New York), the Whitney Museum of Art (New York, New York), Philadelphia Museum of Art (Pennsylvania), Detroit Institute of Arts (Michigan), Virginia Museum of Fine Art (Richmond), the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture (New York, New York), and the National Museum of African-American History and Culture (Washington, DC).

About James E. Bartlett

For over 15 years, James E. Bartlett has led a variety of arts projects serving as curator, creative director, and executive director across a wide range of mediums. In the realm of visual arts, Bartlett has curated numerous exhibitions, including solo shows at MoCADA Hudson River Museum (Yonkers), The Museum of Fine Arts (MFA), St. Petersburg (Florida), and the International African American Museum (Charleston). As Executive Director of the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts (MoCADA) from 2012–18, Bartlett was a leader and innovator in New York’s arts programming space, conducting programming in parks, public housing, and schools across the city. Bartlett has also served as Executive Producer on multiple films by award-winning filmmakers Terence Nance and Blitz Bazawule. Bartlett is Founder of VZBLYF, an arts, design, and production studio. With a passion for authentic storytelling, his practice relies heavily on listening and engagement with community stakeholders.

Bartlett currently serves as the Interim Chief Curator of the International African American Museum, in Charleston. He holds a Global Executive MBA from IESE Business School, a M.S. in Publishing and Media Studies from New York University, and a BA from Loyola University Chicago.


Major support for Ming Smith: Feeling the Future is provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art and The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. Additional support is provided by Art Dealers Association of America Foundation.


Image caption (left to right): Ming Smith. Photo by Chanell Stone. Image courtesy Aperture. / James E. Bartlett. Image courtesy Bartlett.