Go See – New York: Kiki Smith at The Pace Gallery on 22nd Street through June 19th, 2010

May 28th, 2010

Kiki Smith, Pilgrim, 2007-2010, leaded stained glass in steel frames, installation dimensions variable. All installation images courtesy G.R. Christmas courtesy The Pace Gallery.

Currently on view at The Pace Gallery‘s location on 545 W 22nd Street is Kiki Smith: “Lodestar.” A parallel narrative to this exhibition can be found in “Sojourn,” Smith’s concurrent solo show now on view at the Brooklyn Museum (through Sept 12). “Sojourn” marks the artist’s first major museum show in New York since a mid-career survey at the Whitney Museum in 2006. “You have to hit the ground running,” Smith recently told the New York Times, in reference to her process. Ever busy, the artist has also recently been commissioned to design a 16-foot-high window for the Eldridge Street Synagogue in New York’s Lower East Side. The historic landmark is scheduled for completion later this year.

The west coast also welcomes the artist’s presence this year: through August 15, 2010, Seattle’s Henry Art Gallery is showing “Kiki Smith: I Myself Have Seen It,” which explores the role of photography in the development of Smith’s aesthetic. The exhibition will travel to the Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College in the fall and to the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art, Northwestern University in the spring of 2011.

More text and images after the jump…

Similar to the themes present in “Sojourn,” which explores the female lifecycle, from birth to death, “Lodestar” is rife with religious and mystical symbolism offset by contemporary realism. Composed of thirty hand-painted glass panels chronicling women in various stages of life, the exhibition is laid out in one single group. Painted in a detailed style reminiscent of etching, these works revel in their feminine details. Smith first became interested in glass through Christopher Wilmarth, a friend of her father, minimalist sculptor Tony Smith. Ms. Smith says that she took a liking to blown and solid glass early in her career (the mid-1980s), an era which she laments, “suffered [from] ‘a tremendous cultural bias since this type of work was considered craft and really dismissed.’”

Not so anymore.

Smith has been working in this medium for over twenty years, and has spent the last five years working on the series presented in “Lodestar.” The panels began as collage drawings, and evolved into their 3D selves with the help of architect Bill Katz, who designed the stands for the characters. The installation, which reads like a life-size, serious Candyland, has three benches, also designed by Katz, which allow the viewer to see the narrative in both recto and verso.

Kiki Smith at work on “Pilgrim” (2007-10) at the renowned German glass atelier, Mayer’sche Hofkunstanstalt GmbH-Mayer of MunichPhotographs by Bärbel Miebach, courtesy The Pace Gallery.

Kiki Smith at work on “Pilgrim” (2007-10) at the renowned German glass atelier, Mayer’sche Hofkunstanstalt GmbH-Mayer ofMunichPhotographs by Bärbel Miebach, courtesy The Pace Gallery.

Kiki Smith (b. 1954, Nuremberg, Germany) is an artist whose career has spanned over three decades. Since 1982, her work has been exhibited in nearly 150 solo exhibitions at museums and galleries worldwide and has been featured in hundreds of significant group exhibitions, including the Whitney Biennial (1991, 1993, 2002); La Biennale di Firenze (1996-1997; 1998); and La Biennale di Venezia (1993, 1999, 2005, 2009). Her work is held in more than forty important public collections in the United States and abroad. She has been represented by The Pace Gallery since 1994.

This year, Smith was the recipient of the Theo Westenberger Women of Excellence Award, as well as the Nelson A. Rockefeller Award from Purchase College’s School of the Arts. Her many accolades also include the Women in the Arts Award from the Brooklyn Museum (2009), the 50th Edward MacDowell Medal (2009), the Medal Award from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (2006), the Athena Award for Excellence in Printmaking from the Rhode Island School of Design (2006), the Skowhegan Medal for Sculpture from the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Maine (2000), and Time Magazine’s “Time 100 : The People Who Shape Our World” (2006). Smith was elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, New York, in 2005. Kiki Smith lives and works in New York City.

- J. Lindblad

Related Links:
Exhibition Site [Pace Gallery]
“Sojourn” Exhibition Site [Brooklyn Museum]
Through a Glass, Busily [NY Times]
Starry Night on the Lower East Side [Art in America]
Kiki Smith: Interview [Art:21]
A Woman in Full [Daily Beast]
Kiki Smith in Her Natural Habitat [Art in America]
On Being a Woman, From Cradle to Grave [NY Times]
The Intuitionist [NY Times]