“We are stressing the earth in very dramatic, unnecessary ways, and so it makes more sense to say: Oh no, I am nature also.” Join us as we visit the influential and multifaceted American artist Kiki Smith at her home in New York. In the video, Smith talks about her upbringing, her influences, and her constant curiosity.
Growing up, Smith’s parents taught their three daughters to trust and follow their intuition, which she has come to consider a base of incorporated “knowledge and experience,” allowing you to make decisions and move more freely. She compares working as an artist to meandering around the landscape of a garden “in a wandering way” – not arriving anywhere particular and possibly getting lost along the way. Although her work has often correlated with her personal life, Smith stresses that she doesn’t consider it autobiographical: “As an artist, I’m not interested in people knowing personal things about me, or that my work should express a kind of person.” She goes on to explain that it has been imperative for her to find some form of grounding or autonomy separate from the belief systems, governments or religions that we inherit, ridding herself of the things that are vying for control in our society. Smith, who has often examined the body and bodily fluids in her work, also talks about how most of our problems come out of our problematic way of thinking about bodies: “For the most part it has tremendously detrimental ramifications in this world.”
Kiki Smith (b.1954) is a German-born American artist. Since the 1980s, Smith has been known for her multidisciplinary practice and figural representations of mortality, abjection, and sexuality. In her work, she often examines the body and bodily fluids, such as blood, semen, and bile in carefully crafted, surreal sculptures. Smith’s works are held in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, and the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, among others, and has been featured at five Venice Biennales. Moreover, she has been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions worldwide. Smith’s many accolades include Time Magazine’s ‘Time 100: The People Who Shape Our World’ in 2006, Women in the Arts Award from the Brooklyn Museum (2009), the U.S. State Department Medal of Arts (2012) (conferred by Hilary Clinton), and the International Sculpture Center’s Lifetime Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Award. She lives and works in New York City.
Kiki Smith was interviewed by Christian Lund at Kiki Smith’s home in New York in October 2018.