Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Kiki Smith ~ Crown Point Press

Reading about Kiki Smith has filled my week, not that it hasn't been an otherwise busy one. During the course of the week, I read interviews with Smith and discovered more about her so it seemed appropriate to end with another video, another short one in this instance. Smith is at Crown Point Press and talks about why she makes prints, why she doesn't usually use color – an insight into the artist.

Not often using color is similar to Louise Nevelson, the artist of the week last week here at Fifty Two Pieces. Kiki Smith shares another trait with Nevelson, collecting of detritus from the streets of where she is living. In Smith's case, much of what she collects has to do with death. Death is part of life, the process of our living and that process is part of Smith's work. Some of that may come from her having trained as an emergency medical technician. While that may surprise you, Smith has done quite a few things in life that you might not expect of an artist.

When she graduated from high school she trained as an industrial baker. As she put it when asked why she said "I went to trade school to...well to learn a trade... The idea that I was going to be mopping floors otherwise. Or washing dishes. So I thought at least I'd better get trained to wash dishes." Thankfully Smith realized that baking wasn't what she wanted to do with her life. After a number of other adventures she eventually went to art school because a friend of hers was going. Some of the other things she has done while on her journey to being a famous artist ... a factory worker where she airbrushed patterns onto dresses, as an electrician’s assistant, and as a short-order cook.

Back to the Crown Point Press video posted today. In addition to talking about why she makes prints, we get to see a few shots of the color prints Kiki Smith made while she was at Crown Point. The prints are inspired by the WPA work that was done in the thirties, the time of social realism in the art world of Roosevelt's New Deal. All of this is quite timely with the economic woes of our own time. Here are a few stills from Crown Point from that work...

Two links you might otherwise miss on a search across the internet for all things Kiki Smith. The first is an interview with Joseph Magliaro – click here. He is a superb interviewer and Kiki Smith was quite open with him. The second is a write up of Kiki Smith's 2008 Artist Talk at the University of Pennsylvania. Rachel Fick captures Kiki Smith's rambling personality – click here to have a chuckle.

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