America seen through Stars and Stripes, New York City, New York (Primary Title)

Ming Smith, American, born c. 1951 (Artist)

ca. 1976
Works On Paper
Gelatin silver print
Sheet: 15 3/4 × 20 in. (40.01 × 50.8 cm)
Image: 12 1/2 × 18 1/2 in. (31.75 × 46.99 cm)
Mat: 24 × 30 in. (60.96 × 76.2 cm)
Not on view

Born in Detroit, Michigan, and raised in Columbus, Ohio, Smith attended Howard University in Washington, D.C., before she moved to New York City, where she worked as a photographer and a model. When she joined Kamoinge in 1972 she was the group’s first female member and remained the only woman for over two decades. This 1976 image did not appear in the Annual, nevertheless it offers a potent visual counterpart to James Baldwin’s introductory essay, where he commented on the nation’s bicentennial:

"I am writing this at the very beginning of the Bi-Centennial Year. . . . But I have no real interest in America’s birthday, since I no longer expect Americans to grow up. Americans have, themselves, made the date irrelevant precisely by their avoidance of the testimony here recorded, and by their inability to face the truth concerning themselves and that history which has made, and makes, the lives of all black and non-white people so dangerous and so hard."

Adolph D. and Wilkins C. Williams Fund
2018: "Truthful Witnessing: The Black Photographers Annual, Volume 3", VMFA, May 12 - October 14, 2018

"Working Together: Louis Draper and the Kamoinge Workshop", VMFA, February 1, 2020 - June 14, 2020
©artist or artist’s estate

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