Above: Bayeté Ross Smith (American, born 1976), Got the Power: Montgomery, 2022, steel, aluminum, cassette tapes, and boomboxes, Lent by the artist
Got the Power: Montgomery (2022)
Bayeté Ross Smith
A New Kind of Art Installation
New York-based interdisciplinary artist Bayeté Ross Smith constructed a site-specific work from his Got the Power: Boomboxes series here at the MMFA. Standing 14-feet tall and 8-feet wide, this monumental u-shaped tower was constructed from hundreds of boomboxes and explores how boomboxes have been an important element in urban communities and also within popular culture. As part of the project, Ross Smith collaborated with local residents, collecting community members’ favorite songs and stories about Montgomery to form a playlist. This audio story becomes an oral history of our city and is broadcast from the sculptural installation. Together, the sculpture and the soundscape function, as he says, as “a symbol of pride, power, and autonomy.”
Listen to the Audio Story
Organized by the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, Montgomery, Alabama.
Support for this installation is provided by lead sponsors Mr. and Mrs. Barrie H. Harmon III and sponsor Max Credit Union.
Special thanks to our partners, 21 Dreams Arts & Culture; Farmers Insurace – Dwayne Farrior Agency; Alabama Power; Leadership Montgomery; and Montgomery PRIDE United for helping make this project possible.
Together, the sculpture and the soundscape function, as Ross Smith says, as “a symbol of pride, power, and autonomy.”
About the Artist
Bayeté Ross Smith is an interdisciplinary artist, photographer, filmmaker, and educator working at the intersection of photography, film and video, visual journalism, 3D objects, and new media. He lives in Harlem, New York.
Ross Smith is Columbia Law School’s inaugural Artist-In-Residence, a Presidential Leadership Scholar, aTED Resident, a Creative Capital Awardee, an Art For Justice Fund Fellow, a BPMPlus Grantee, and a POV NY Times embedded media maker.
His art is in the collections of The Smithsonian Institution, the Oakland Museum of California, the Birmingham Museum of Art, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, and The Brooklyn Museum. He has exhibited internationally with the Goethe Institute (Ghana), Foto Museum (Belgium), the Lianzhou Foto Festival (China), and America House in (Ukraine), among others. His collaborative projects “Along The Way” and “Question Bridge: Black Males” have shown at the 2008 and 2012 Sundance Film Festival, respectively. His work has also been featured at the Sheffield Doc Fest and the L.A. Film Festival.
Ross Smith has also created a series of public art projects with organizations such as the Jerome Foundation, BRIC Arts Media, The Amistad Center, The Laundromat Project, the NYC Parks Department, the Hartford YMCA, San Francisco District Attorney’s Office and The California Judicial Council. His work has been published in numerous publications including The New York Times, The Guardian, National Geographic Learning, Question Bridge: Black Males in America (2015), Dis:Integration: The Splintering of Black America(2010), Posing Beauty: African American Images from the 1890s to the Present (2009), Black: A Celebration of A Culture (2005), The Spirit Of Family (2002), and the Philadelphia Inquirer.
In addition to his creative work in art and media, Bayeté helped launch and continues to work with the Kings Against Violence Initiative (KAVI), a hospital and school-based violence prevention organization in Brooklyn, New York, that partners with Kings County Hospital. He is also a faculty member at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.