Heralded as one of the most innovative and distinctive voices of her generation, Kiki Smith has spent almost 40 years addressing the joys and perils of humanity through her artwork. This fall, a selection of her drawings, prints, and sculptures is on display at the OSU Museum of Art from Aug. 8 through Dec. 2.
Kiki Smith and Paper: The Body, the Muse, and the Spirit explores Smith’s fascination with the human body – and the female body in particular – alongside themes of birth, death, and regeneration, through a selection of objects that represent the one medium with which Smith has consistently engaged: paper.
A multi-disciplinary artist, Smith is well known as a printmaker, having worked extensively in etching, lithography, screenprint, rubber stamp, tattoos, and other techniques since the late 1980s. Drawing has also been fundamental to her printmaking, as well as a prolific expressive tool on its own.
However, it is her paper sculptures that project the pathos and fragility of the human spirit most poignantly, according to Wendy Weitman, exhibition curator. Though Smith has crafted sculptures from many materials, Weitman said the humble status of paper, and its rare use in the medium of sculpture, is something Smith relishes.
Throughout her career, across a variety of media, much of Smith’s work has addressed the realms of human anatomy, the human condition in relationship to nature, and the cycle of life and spirituality. However, the female figure in particular is something that has preoccupied Smith since the early 1980s.
“She has considered it from every possible perspective – physically, culturally, historically, and personally,” said Weitman. “This exhibition looks at some of these perspectives–fragments of the female anatomy, studies of celebrated allegorical women, and finally, ghosts and surrogates of the female figure.”
The exhibition is organized by the Oklahoma State University Museum of Art. It is curated by Wendy Weitman, who served as Curator in the Department of Prints and Illustrated Books at The Museum of Modern Art in New York from 1980 – 2007. Kiki Smith and Paper is the third in the New York Project, an exhibition series bringing the work of high-profile New York artists to Oklahoma. It follows James Rosenquist: Illustrious Works on Paper, Illuminating Paintings (2014-2015) and Richard Tuttle: A Print Retrospective (2016). When the exhibition closes, it will travel to Syracuse University Art Galleries where it will be on view from Jan. 15 – March 18, 2018.