Kiki Smith is an artist who I totally get. An American artist, born in Germany in 1954, Smith occupies a unique place in the art world. Her work is varied, versatile, powerful, weird and wonderful. There is no artist I have found who works as she does, except myself, and I am a mere fledgling.
Kiki Smith works in several different media and her exhibitions bring together etchings, painting, textile art, sculpture, book art and photography. The glue for these works is a central theme for each exhibition. In the late 1980s and early 1990s Smith worked with themes surrounding body issues, effluvia, and taboo. Her work has often featured female iconography and more recently the female icons have been plucked from the world of the fairy tale.
In the sculpture below we see a different take on Little Red Riding Hood.
Image sourced on 4/9/14 from: http://tinyurl.com/m723ljx
This time a drawing entitled, ‘Wearing the Skin’, this image reflects how I portray the Red and the wolf in my own art.
In an interview with Psychology Today, Smith said:
Just do your work. And if the world needs your work it will come and get you. And if it doesn’t, do your work anyway. You can have fantasies about having control over the world, but I know I can barely control my kitchen sink. That is the grace I’m given. Because when one can control things, one is limited to one’s own vision. As a child I prayed that my calling be revealed—but not with expectation and not with a destination. I became an artist because I didn’t know what to do and I thought it was really fun to make things.
I like her words as much as I like her art. Making art, being creative because you have to, is the difference I think between being an artist and being anyone else. I am amazed that not everyone has this burning need to create, that not everyone obsesses over colours, shapes, light, shadows, the way I do, that not everyone regularly takes a hundred photos on a morning walk.
I was also very excited to discover that Kiki Smith worked with fairy tales, and that we had much in common in our media and themes, if not expertise. I had already planned that my personal work would be a collection of various different media and techniques around my theme. Finding out that an artist whose work I admire and respect, both creates and exhibits her work in this way, strengthened my concept for me personally.
More about Kiki and her work soon. I discovered her fairy tale work through a cover on one of my Jack Zipes books. The cover art was created by Kiki Smith in 2002, it is entitled Born
Image sourced on 4/9/14 from: http://tinyurl.com/o7qatwa