Over a five-decade career, Ming Smith built up a multi-layered body of work. She created self-portraits in different modes, photographed Black celebrities and musicians, and documented street scenes from Harlem to Senegal to France to Japan. Her oeuvre is experimental, rich, and varied and uses techniques such as frame masking, hand-tinting, superimposition and collage to blur the boundary between the ethereal and the everyday. Running through it all is a palpable dedication to depicting the spirituality, struggle, and humanity of Black culture.
Contemporary Arts Museum Houston is planning a major retrospective of her work, Ming Smith: Feeling the Future, to be presented in the fall of 2022, with works from every era of her career. Exploring themes such as Afrofuturism, Black cultural expression, and social commentary, it will feature her photographic work as well as more recent creations in film, mixed media, sculpture, and performance.