This blouse was given to me 30 years ago from my Aunt Stella Talbert; my then 97 year old Great Aunt. She lived most of her life in Detroit. When visiting New York she’d go shopping at Sax Fifth Avenue. This multi -colored blouse had originally been bought for herself and also had been worn.

The day I visited her she opened up her meticulously packed and organized closet and said to pick anything I wanted. I chose a few items but this particular item still remains-occasionally I still wear this blouse. So this blouse is at least 40+ years old. When seeing it I’m reminded of the love she bestowed to me. I’ve worn it to a few important art events and somehow I feel her power, her sense of beauty and pride, the strength, her sophisticated style, her worldliness (going to New York to shop); quality was important and was a must.

Also on that trip Aunt Stella told me that her deceased husband( I never met) was a pianist and played in the band with Eubie Blake and Noble Sissle. While on the road,they lived in New York and would stay at the Theresa Hotel and shared the same kitchen. On that same trip she told me about her husband’s father who had taught literature at Wilberforce College in Ohio. Her husband’s name was Virgil and because Virgil was a twin, the father named the brother Homer. (Virgil and Homer)

While walking in Harlem with a friend I was casually introduced to Janet. My friend said this is Janet Talbert. I jokingly said you could be my cousin. I asked her where did she grow up? and she said Detroit. I then said oh you really could be my cousin! After chatting -more questions and answers- going back and forth we finally discovered we were family. The story of Virgil and Homer definitely was the defining moment. And to make a long story short my Aperture Book came from this per chance meeting- one of a million New Yorkers.

But was it a per-chance-meeting or was it a spiritual connection ? Hmm direction? from both of our favorite aunt; Aunt Stella Talbert.

Ming Smith was born in Detroit and raised in Columbus, Ohio. A self-taught artist and former model, in the 1970s, she published her early work in THE BLACK PHOTOGRAPHERS ANNUAL. Smith’s work has been collected by and presented in major museums, including the Museum of Modern Art, Whitney Museum of American Art, and Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York; Brooklyn Museum; National Museum of African American History and Culture, and National Portrait Gallery, Washington, DC; and Serpentine Galleries, and Tate Modern, London. Beginning in 2017, her work was included in the celebrated traveling exhibitions WE WANTED A REVOLUTION: BLACK RADICAL WOMEN, 1965 – 85 and SOUL OF A NATION: ART IN THE AGE OF BLACK POWER, as well as in Arthur Jafa’s exhibition A SERIES OF UTTERLY IMPROBABLE, YET EXTRAORDINARY RENDITIONS, which traveled from London to Berlin, Prague, Stockholm, and Porto, Portugal. In 2019, Smith’s solo exhibition with Jenkins Johnson Gallery was awarded the Frieze Stand Prize at Frieze New York. Smith lives and works in New York. In 2020 MING SMITH: AN APERTURE MONOGRAPH was published by Aperture and Documentary Arts.