Shinique Smith: Stargazers

Shinique Smith, Bending a Rainbow without the Sun, 2021, Acrylic and ink on canvas, 96 x 72 x 2, Courtesy the Artist and SAS Studio 96

APRIL 21, 2022 – JULY 31, 2022

Oppenheimer, Thompson and Anonymous Galleries, First Floor Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art

Free admission, to schedule tours visit nermanmuseum.org or email tours@nermanmuseum.org.

Shinique Smith: STARGAZERS features a new body of work by artist Shinique Smith, whose multidisciplinary practice includes painting, sculpture, video, photography, installation and performance. STARGAZERS will highlight the breadth of her practice, focusing on her studies in spirituality and spiritual identity; geometry, the cosmos, and cosmic patterns; and the role of clothing and cloth in personal freedom and identity.

“The works in STARGAZERS are doubling down on my focus of finding the mystical within myself and the everyday, continuing to explore materials signature to my practice, while asserting my body and presence as a Black woman on my own intellectual and spiritual journey,” said Shinique Smith.

Through large-scale calligraphic paintings, bundled sculptures that reference the human form, and smaller-scale, more intimate works, Smith builds a story of marks, words and colors into a twisting, moving timeline. Exploring ideas of transformation and ritual through materials such as fabric, clothing, personal belongings, breath, bundling, collage and gesture, Smith has built a complex visual vocabulary that resonates on intimate and social scales. The exhibition features a series of large-scale works the artist made blindfolded during the Black Lives Matter protests that erupted across the United States, as she sought for a feeling of freedom and release. The work is layered, colorful and vivid, even riotous in its palette. Other paintings utilize collage, working fabric into the abstractions. Her large-scale sculptures are delicate, laborious hand-made cloth-based work that are bundled and tied. The ritual of making them imbues her work with totem-like significance and even bodily presence. Cyanotype tapestries also center the story of the body in fabric; the shadow of the artist herself is reminiscent in the work.

Smith’s film Breathing Room: Moon Marked Journey, a new time-based performance work that highlights breath as an uplifting medium and ritual tool for transformation. In the film, women practice endurance breathing, creating a cacophony of breath that creates a chorus. Centered in the work is Smith’s ongoing investigation of cloth — hand-dyed fabrics and bleached fabrics —and use of the historically fraught material as a narrative tool; layered in her work is the knowledge that indigo cloth was once a cash crop alongside cotton. She bundles and unravels herself and her subjects, and sometimes her sculptures, highlighting the body and the compression of the body. Smith sees performance as a multifaceted stage for catharsis. (The video evolved out of the artist’s performance at Open Spaces KC in 2018.)

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