Inspired by the nature of the things we consume and discard, Baltimore, Maryland native Shinique Smith is an American visual artist known for her colorful painting, installation art and bound sculptures of textiles and clothing. Smith grew up with vast artistic training stemming from her mother who was a fashion designer and magazine editor. She studied at a public arts high school alongside many notable young talents. During this time, Smith was influenced by the graffiti scene. A few years later, in undergraduate school, Smith became intrigued by Japanese calligraphy and Abstraction. These various inspirations are the influences from which she withdraws “the graceful and spiritual qualities in written word and the everyday.”
After earning her BFA at Maryland Institute College of Art, Smith worked in the film industry and assisted on motion pictures. In 2000, Smith returned to her studies to earn a Master of Arts in Education degree from Tufts University and a Master of Fine Arts degree from the Maryland Institute College of Art in 2003. That same year, Smith made the decision to move to New York and participated in The Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s artist studio residency, where she began making sculpture.
Smith creates very unique sculptural works often using clothing, stuffed animals and other everyday materials like found objects by tying them together and combining these materials with expressive brushwork. She says, “It all begins with emotion, an expression and I allow myself to go on a journey in the making of each work, a journey of association between object and color, between lyrics and fabric, between the viewer and me.” Her sculptures recycle by using old, thrown-away clothing that would be shipped in bales to the Third World. For Artist: Body, Smith created a work from her own jeans, bundled and bound, as a stand-in for her body. The title, Soul Elsewhere, implies a sense of disembodiment and the feeling of displacement. The rope that is wrapped around the jeans and hung from the ceiling suggests the shadow of a lynch mob.
Shinique Smith has received a lot of recognition throughout the years. Her work has been exhibited at prestigious venues like The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, Denver Art Museum, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery (Washington DC), MOMA/PS1 (New York), and many others.
Today, one can view her new mural at Elk Camp in Aspen for the Aspen Art Museum through October 2016. She has also contributed to Open Source, a citywide public arts exhibition curated by Pedro Alonso, by creating a performance space at a playground in Philadelphia. In addition to these new projects, one can view her permanent public installations at the UCSF Medical Center at Mission Bay in San Francisco, the Mother Clara Hale Bus Depot, New York MTA/Art in Transit and the Cosmopolitan Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.
Smith’s work, Soul Elsewhere, will be featured in Artist: Body, which will run from February 27th until March 27th. Gallery Hours are Tuesday through Thursday 10am-4pm, Friday from 10am-8pm, and Saturday & Sunday from 1pm-4pm.
Written by Sheridan Fromm, LAL Intern, University of Kentucky ISC student