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.