Posted by Rebecca Workman
For the first time, the photographs of sculptor Kiki Smith take center stage in "I Myself Have Seen It," an exhibition at the Tang Teaching Museum that will run until Dec. 30. The travelling exhibition, currently at its third of four venues, signifies Smith's focus on the body and displays her spin-offs on stories such as "Little Red Riding Hood."
Smith, the daughter of minimalist sculptor Tony Smith, is most acclaimed for her sculptures. While this is Smith's first photography exhibit, the artist has been taking photographs her entire career. Rachel Seligman, associate curator of the Tang Museum, said that photographs are tools in Smith's artistic practice. These photographs act as portals into Smith's complex thought process. Elizabeth Brown, chief curator of University of Washington's Henry Art Gallery, said that they "flow seamlessly into the next, just as Smith's work itself meanders from one focus to the next."
During a curator's tour at the Tang on Sept. 21, Seligman said, "[Smith] is not interested in making what is traditionally a good photograph." Starting with the layout of the exhibition itself, Smith has thousands of 4x6 photographs lining the bottom of the walls, forming a border to the exhibit. These 4x6 photos not only relate to each other, but also correspond to the works displayed above. In each cluster of the larger photographs, which are displayed in different forms, you may find that a piece of art has strayed toward the ceiling from its cluster (don't forget to look up.)
Many of Smith's photographs display her earlier work in other mediums. However, they are not used as a form of documentation. These photographs show Smith's work in a different light. They force viewers to look at her creations from different angles or by focusing on only a certain part of a sculpture. Smith skillfully uses light, angle, color and borders to capture the attention of the viewer and to express certain moods and messages. She has also mastered the use of foreground and background, as well as focus, in her photographs to convey specific points of view.
Although she has been generally recognized as a feminist artist, Seligman notes that, "while a lot of her work speaks to feminist issues, it is unfair to classify her as a feminist artist."
There will be curator's tour at noon both Oct. 25 and Nov. 15. Kiki Smith will be appearing at the Tang to speak at 7 p.m. Nov. 3. The exhibition will next move to the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art in Scottsdale, AZ.