Kiki Smith: Sojourn, a major site-specific installation that explores the ideas of creative inspiration and the cycle of life in relation to women artists, will be on view February 5 through September 12, 2010, in the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art. The exhibition will draw from a variety of work by Kiki Smith in a range of media including cast objects, unique sculpture, and works on paper. The artist will also incorporate her work into two of the Brooklyn Museum
's eighteenth-century period rooms in the nearby Decorative Arts galleries.
Inspired, in part, by an important eighteenth-century New England needlework, Prudence Punderson's The First, Second and Last Scenes of Mortality (Connecticut Historical Society, Hartford), Smith focuses on a variety of universal experiences, from the milestones of birth and death to the quotidian, such as the daily chores of domestic life. She also analyzes the artist's creative development and associates it with the stages in a lifetime, beginning with the creative awakening or birth and followed by a period of exploration, the achievement of artistic maturity, the later part of life, and, finally, death.
The exhibition's gallery space will be divided into segmented rooms containing the sculptures and components of the installation. Sojourn will include work incorporating other iconographic appropriations that have interested the artist in the past, including representations of the life of the Virgin Mary, ancient mythical figures, and more contemporary figures such as the suffragettes of the 1920s.
In a career spanning more than three decades, Kiki Smith has produced a body of work unique in its engagement with social and political mores, particularly as they relate to the physical experiences and emotional lives of women. She has worked in a remarkably wide range of media. Best known as a sculptor, she is also an adept print maker and draftsman and has made significant work in glass, including installations using stained glass.
One of three artist daughters of the late Minimalist sculptor Tony Smith (1912-1980), Kiki Smith at an early age helped her father fashion cardboard models for his monumental geometric sculptures. Her interest in the body as subject manifested itself early in her career and was augmented by her training as an emergency medical technician. By the mid-1980s, she had gained a reputation for work that focused on the biological systems of human bodies. Themes of regeneration, birth, and the cycles of life proliferate in her art. Her early affiliation with the political action and artists' collaborative group Colab fostered her interest in print media and the adaptation of commercial strategies for disseminating information.
Smith gained international fame with her first major New York exhibition in 1988, and her influence has continued to grow through more than 150 solo exhibitions. She was the 2009 recipient of the Edward MacDowell Medal and has also been honored with a Skowhegan Medal for sculpture in 2001.
Kiki Smith: Sojourn is organized by Catherine Morris, Curator of the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, Brooklyn Museum. It is the fourth venue in a series of site-specific installations, a long-term project by the artist that originated at Museum Haus Esters, Krefeld (March 16-August 24, 2008) and traveled to Kunsthalle Nürnberg (September 18-November 16, 2008), and Fundació Joan Miró, Barcelona (February 19-May 24, 2009).