Sunday, April 25, 2010

Kiki Smith: Sojourn, at the Brooklyn Museum

I "met" Kiki Smith in Philadelphia in 2007. She was here for an opening of an exhibition that featured her print work at the Fabric Workshop. I immediately recognized her from an Alex Katz painting that I had seen in W magazine. I began swatting at my companion, whispering raspily "that's Kiki Smith, that's Kiki Smith!!! What do I do???" when she touched my arm and said, "The other artist will be speaking in the next room in a few minutes." I turned and stared at her with wide eyes, saying nothing until she wrinkled one of her eyebrows and walked away from me. I'm smooth.

The point is, she is my absolute favorite artist. Her work is so diverse and inspiring- I frequently think of her when I feel like I am dipping my hand in too many pots and need more focus. I believe she chooses her media in the same way that I do; first the idea comes, and then you think of a way to translate that idea into something visual or experiential, hopefully finding the method which enables the most people to feel something of it... And then you have to go out and learn how to use that media. Her drawings are my favorite, but she also works in paper mache, cast plaster and metals, paint, wooden construction, and cut paper. It's freeing to see her work because you feel simultaneously stimulated by many different types of work, as well as unlimited in your own methods of communicating with the public.

I found out a few months ago that she was installing a solo exhibition on the fourth floor of the Brooklyn Museum where mostly feminist art resides, and I knew I needed to see it. Now that I have seen it I know I need to see it again. Dan and I decided to make a day of it and see Sojourn, and the William Kentridge show (as well as the Tim Burton show) in the MoMA. We started out in Brooklyn, which was beautiful- I had never actually been to that part of New York, and we spent a good long time taking in Sojourn, and happening upon Judy Chicago's Dinner Party, which I had never seen in person.

Sojourn was incredible. Smith chronicled the lives of a few women, and in her intimate, awkward way, displayed private moments, dealt with platonic love, death, and lonliness, and filled and utilized the space in her many rooms with greatness. Lightbulbs covered with glitter hung from the ceiling, beaming rays of wax paper and toothpicks. The image shown is my favorite moment from the show. There is the old woman with a young woman flying from her lap (which I loved only slightly more than the sexy lady in lingerie with a little dove perched on her hand). I'm not going to pretend I know what she was trying to express, but there was all at once, a serious sense of letting go, loss, and freedom. I especially loved the way her world surrounded me and held me. The good news is, it is up until September 12, and the Museum is right next door to the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens... I smell a girly day coming up!
I would encourage anyone to go see the show; it's endearing, inspiring, and heart-breaking.

The Kentridge show was also incredible. I have to go back to see it again, because it was extremely heavy and political, and there was a lot of video work, which I can only watch for so long without getting museum-head. I saw about 60% of it and needed a break, but what I saw was fantastic, visually stimulating, masterfully executed, and full of intense messages of loss, depression, and the emotional effects of racism. I need to go back to take in the other 40%.

The Tim Burton show was overcrowded and a little disappointing. It was more of a collection of his movie paraphernalia than an exhibition of his works. There were lots of dolls from his stop-motion movies that he did not create, lots of storyboards that he didn't draw, and interpretations of his drawings in the form of sculptures that he did not mold. If you love Tim Burton's movies, and know what you are going to see from the get-go, then go see it. If not, it's completely missable.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

New Artist's Statement

I had to come up with something a little new because I am applying for a few exhibitions and I think my last artist's statement does not apply to my current body of work. Let me know what you think:

My current bodies of work deal with sequence and storytelling. Born from the stuff of illustration, these intricate drawings and embellished sculptures enable me to bring my dream life into the realm of the real. I am frequently inspired to give a visual voice to my own writings, inspired by my overactive nocturnal imagination, as well as the poems and short stories of friends and professionals. The result of this is sometimes embarrassing, often beautiful, and always uncomfortably intimate.