“He said, ‘All you’re going to do is be a domestic,’ ” the photographer, who now lives in Harlem, tells The Post. “ ‘Why waste going to college?’ ”
Instead, Smith went to Howard University in DC, moved to New York City and became one of the foremost chroniclers of black life in the US and beyond. She’s now the subject of a major solo exhibition, opening Friday at the Steven Kasher Gallery in Chelsea with 75 photos on view spanning her 40-year career.
“I had a teacher who used to tell me, ‘Always be in the art,’ ” says Smith, whose impressionistic images capture the grit, poetry and vitality of communities from Coney Island to Senegal. “I photograph from my heart — it’s impulsive, but it’s constant.”
The Harlem Renaissance was a cultural, social, and artistic explosion that took place in Harlem, New York, spanning the 1920s. During the time, it was known as the “New Negro Movement”, named after the 1925 anthology by Alain Locke. The Movement also included the new African-American cultural expressions across the urban areas in the Northeast and Midwest United States affected by the African-American Great Migration, of which Harlem was the largest. The Harlem Renaissance was considered to be a rebirth of African-American arts. Though it was centered in the Harlem neighborhood of the borough of Manhattan in New York City, many francophone black writers from African and Caribbean colonies who lived in Paris were also influenced by the Harlem Renaissance.
The Harlem Renaissance is generally considered to have spanned from about 1918 until the mid-1930s. Many of its ideas lived on much longer. The zenith of this “flowering of Negro literature”, as James Weldon Johnson preferred to call the Harlem Renaissance, took place between 1924 (when Opportunity: A Journal of Negro Life hosted a party for black writers where many white publishers were in attendance) and 1929 (the year of the stock market crash and the beginning of the Great Depression). (Wikipedia).