ArtForum spotlights Frieze Stand Prize artist, Ming Smith

Frieze New York’s Stand Prize, which recognizes outstanding solo presentations at the fair, has been awarded to Jenkins Johnson Gallery for its display of work by Ming Smith in a special section dedicated to Linda Goode Bryant and her storied Just Above Midtown (JAM) gallery. Curated by Franklin Sirmans, the director of Pérez Art Museum Miami, the section features presentations of artists such as Dawoud Bey, Norman Lewis, Senga Nengudi, and Lorna Simpson.


Born in Detroit, Michigan and raised in Columbus, Smith was the first black female photographer to have prints acquired by the Museum of Modern Art  in New York. She was also the first female member of Kamoinge—the African American photography collective whose members included Roy DeCarava and Gordon Parks—and one of the first African American women to break the color barrier in the modeling industry, alongside Grace Jones.


Known for her black-and-white portraits of the urban experience and African American cultural figures, Smith’s work can be found in the collections of museums such as the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Smithsonian, and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.


Jenkins Johnson’s booth was selected by a prize jury comprising Thelma Golden, director and chief curator of the Studio Museum in Harlem; Cathleen Chaffee, chief curator of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery; and Nancy Spector, artistic director and chief curator of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.


“Our decision to honor the JAM initiative in general and Ming Smith in particular was unanimous,” Spector said. “We recognized that the presentation constituted an important recuperation of an artist’s practice that is not as well-known as it should be. Her booth at Frieze is filled with vintage prints, which is rare to see in the case of artists active in the 1970s and early ’80s who did not have a market at that time. Her unique, experimental photographic style is very accomplished and should be celebrated.”