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Jan 17, 2024

Ming Smith exhibition coming to the International African American Museum

Charleston, S.C. – The International African American Museum (IAAM) will house a special exhibition by Ming Smith this winter and early spring. Ming Smith: Feeling the Future will be on view from January 31 through April 28, 2024. 

Ming Smith: Feeling the Future explores the artist’s unparalleled and under-recognized career from the early 1970s through the present. Smith’s first solo exhibition at a major institution is traveling from its debut site, Contemporary Art Museum (CAM) of Houston. The collection encompasses a multitude of artistic expressions that represent her vibrant and multi-layered practice, which is grounded in portraiture, as it amplifies the heartbeat of Black life in the United States. Drawn from the full complexity of Smith’s oeuvre, Feeling the Future places works from the artist’s five decades of creation in conversation with one another, while it embraces the cultural movements she witnessed and participated in. Exploring themes such as Afrofuturism, Black cultural expression, representation, and social examination, the exhibition offers a guided tour into unperceived moments of life as captured by one of the most profoundly gifted artists of her generation.

A reception will be held on Tuesday, January 30, at IAAM, 14 Wharfside Street, in downtown Charleston, to mark the exhibition opening. Guests will have the opportunity to engage with solo artist Ming Smith about her career and legacy. They may also partake in a self-guided tour of the entire museum from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. that evening. Guests can register for the reception and tour here

“Ming Smith is the one of the most important photographers of our time. As the first woman to join Kamoinge – a groundbreaking Black photography collective – she has broken barriers that live at the intersection of race and gender. Her work can be found at the most significant institutions in the world, from The Whitney to the Schomburg, and has been shown at many more, including Tate Modern and MoMA. Still, few of us are yet to know her name, though many know her work. Her iconic images of artists like Tina Turner and Nina Simone have come across our timelines and for a moment, stopped us in time. That’s how remarkable her lens is as it captures the soul of the moment, the movement, and the person. With this solo exhibition, traveling from CAM, we will have the opportunity to not only discover more of her work, but through the work, we will get to meet and to know Ming Smith,” noted Malika Pryor, chief engagement and learning officer at IAAM. 

The International African American Museum (IAAM) explores the history, culture, and impact of the African American journey on Charleston, the nation, and the world, shining light and sharing stories of the diverse journeys, origin, and achievements of descendants of the African Diaspora. Across eleven galleries and a memorial garden with art, objects, artifacts, and multi-media interaction, IAAM is a champion of authentic, empathetic storytelling of American history. As a result, the museum will stand as one of the nation’s newest platforms for the disruption of institutionalized racism as it evolves today. The mission of IAAM is to honor the untold stories of the African American journey at the historically sacred site of Gadsden’s Wharf and beyond. For more information, please visit iaamuseum.org.

Editor’s Note: The attached photos include a current picture of Ming Smith photographed by Chanell Stone, courtesy of Aperture, as well as Amen Corner Sisters and Chicago Art Ensemble by Ming Smith, courtesy of IAAM. More photos of Ming Smith’s work are available upon request.