This panel offers a frank and informal conversation about the unique and evolving relationship between an artist and her gallerists. Smith will discuss her early collaborations including with the Kamoinge Workshop and the subjects of her first photographs, how she came to work with her present galleries, and their joint journey leading up to major her solo exhibitions at Contemporary Arts Museum Houston and Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 2023.
Ming Smith, photographer, New York
Karen Jenkins-Johnson, Principal Director, Jenkins Johnson Gallery, San Francisco, Brooklyn, Los Angeles
Georgia Lurie, Director, Pippy Houldsworth Gallery, London
Nicola Vassell, Founder & CEO, Nicola Vassell Gallery, New York
Moderator: Drew Sawyer, Phillip Leonian and Edith Rosenbaum Leonian Curator, Brooklyn Museum, New York|
Ming Smith became the first Black female photographer to be included in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1978. Smith’s practice is a tale of five decades spent examining transitory occurrence – intervals at which figures blur, atmospheres alter, vistas haunt, souls whir, and opposites engage in allied work. Smith’s photographic approach is both scientific and celestial, with experimentation and adventure marking her fascination with detail as it stretches across form and mood. Her dedication to music, dance, and theater underlines the synergistic excellence that characterizes her secondary, if metaphoric, occupations as anthropologist, historian, and poet.
Karen Jenkins-Johnson has more than 30 years of experience as a gallerist, curator, manager, and entrepreneur. She founded Jenkins Johnson Gallery, San Francisco, in 1996 and Jenkins Johnson Projects, Brooklyn, in 2017. The galleries represent international contemporary artists working across disciplines and exhibit work by 20th century masters as well as established, mid-career, and emerging artists. A current focus is on expanding the art canon to recognize and bring attention to overlooked and under-represented artists of the African Diaspora, as well as being a resource for curators and collectors. Jenkins-Johnson is a member of the Board of Trustees at University of Puget Sound.
Nicola Vassell is Founder and CEO of Nicola Vassell Gallery, a contemporary art gallery committed to discourse that widens the lens of the history and future of art. Its focus is on developing an inter-generational, cross-disciplinary program of artists and thinkers. Prior to the gallery, Vassell founded Concept NV, an art advisory and curatorial lab, specialized in collection building and exhibitions on cultural phenomenology. She is an editor of books, whose past publications include, Jean-Michel Basquiat 1981: The Studio of the Street; Francesco Clemente: Works 1971-1979 and Kehinde Wiley: Black Light. Vassell was a Director at Deitch Projects and Pace Gallery.
Georgia Lurie is a Director at Pippy Houldsworth Gallery, a London-based contemporary art gallery with an international roster of emerging and established artists, which focuses on greater representation of female artists and intergenerational crossover. With previous experience as a Director at Simon Lee Gallery, where she oversaw key artist relationships and a busy research department, as well as at Hauser & Wirth and Christie’s, at Pippy Houldsworth Gallery Georgia works to support artists from the programme and to cultivate new relationships. She holds an MA in the History of Art from the Courtauld Institute in London.
Drew Sawyer is a curator and historian of photography. He currently serves as the Phillip Leonian and Edith Rosenbaum Leonian Curator at the Brooklyn Museum, where he has organized numerous shows, including ‘Jimmy DeSana: Submission’ (2022); ‘John Edmonds: A Sidelong Glance’ (2020); and ‘Liz Johnson Artur: Dusha’ (2019). He was previously a curator at the Columbus Museum of Art, where he co-organized the historical survey, ‘Art after Stonewall, 1969–89’ (2019). His current projects include a history of zines and contemporary artistic practices and a book on photography and queer opacity.
The Art Basel Miami Beach 2022 Conversations program is curated by Emily Butler.
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