Ming Smith photographs Michael Jordan, basketball player – ARTnews.com


Artist Ming Smith, in a recent interview with his gallery owner Nicola Vassell, compared his photographic technique to a basketball shot: “The power of anticipation and the patience to wait for what’s to come. It’s like a basketball player who hits three points: practice, repeat, practice, repeat. You’re getting better, and you’ll miss a few more. In photography, you have to nail it the moment it’s in the lens. Take the photo when you see it. In a draft tied to the Women’s National Basketball Association’s 25th season, which kicked off last month at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, Smith had the chance to shoot some of the players hitting those three-pointers.

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Earlier this year, with Vassell’s help as creative director, Nike’s Jordan Brand tapped Smith to photograph female members of the Jordan Brand family who together represent the largest group of female athletes in be approved by Jordan. Photographs include portraits of Minnesota Lynx guard Crystal Dangerfield, New York Liberty guard Kia Nurse, Dallas Wings forward Satou Sabally, LA Sparks point guard Te’a Cooper, Los Angeles guard Dallas wings Chelsea Dungee, Los Angeles Sparks guard Arella Guirantes, Minnesota Lynx Powers forward, Las Vegas Aces forward Dearica Hamby and Seattle Storm goaltender Jordin Canada.

Smith is known for the candid, impeccably composed photographs she has been making for more than four decades, since becoming the first and only female member of Kamoinge, a collective of black photographers founded by Roy DeCarava. In his photographs for the Jordan shoot, the athletes are depicted, both individually and in groups, standing in a field of tall grass, wearing black dresses or black pantsuits. In two of the photos, they flank Michael Jordan himself, a six-time NBA champion and owner of the Charlotte Hornets.

About the interaction with the athletes, Smith said that she and on-set stylist Carlos Nazario, global fashion director of identifier magazine, “were trying to capture their essence”.

She added: “Empowering images are not stereotypical. Our mothers didn’t have to show huge cleavage, but they were very feminine. They were women. We are women. So just their beauty is beautiful to me inside and out. It’s the physical and the spiritual…the spirit.

Michael Jordan sees the Jordan Brand family as part of his racial justice efforts. In early June 2020, shortly after the death of George Floyd and the protests that followed, Jordan announced that he would be donating $100 million to fight racism, which will go to the Legal Defense Fund and education of the NAACP, the formerly incarcerated and convicted peoples and families movement. , Black Voters Matter and other organizations. He said at the time that “Jordan Brand, the Jordan family and our partners…share a commitment to addressing the historic inequality that continues to plague black communities in the United States.”

Earlier this spring, Vassell opened his new New York gallery with an exhibition of Smith’s photographs titled “Evidence.” A number of Smith’s images from The Jordan Project will be on display at the gallery as part of the small pop-up exhibition from June 29 to July 2.


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