Kiki Smith’s solo show at Dallas Contemporary is an epic exposition of her existential musings.
iki Smith’s restless multidisciplinary journey has evolved organically over its 40+ years. Mostly self-taught, the artistic practice of the self-described “thing-maker” has variously incorporated sculpture, printmaking, painting, photography, drawing, glass, textiles, tapestry, watercolor, installation, and collaboration, in exploring recurrent themes of feminism, human physicality, mortality, Catholicism, the animal kingdom, spirituality, myth-making, fairy tales, abjection, the AIDS crisis, sexuality, the sacred, and the secular. In sum, the human experience writ large. Additionally, Smith’s vita is festooned with laurels, with a short list that includes 2016’s International Sculpture Center’s Lifetime Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Award; the U.S. State Department Medal of Arts (2012); “Honorary Royal Academician” from London’s Royal Academy of Arts; Time Magazine’s “Time 100: The People Who Shape Our World” (2006); more than 150 solo exhibitions worldwide; repeated inclusions in the Whitney Biennial, La Biennale di Venezia, and La Biennale di Firenze; works in the permanent collections of 30+ museums; membership in the American Academy of Arts and Letters; and the list goes on. So it’s cause for loud celebration that Dallas Contemporary is presenting Kiki Smith: Mortal from September 29 through December 17, a major exhibition of 2D and 3D works involving everything from a monumental stained-glass installation to woodcut, aluminum sculpture to papier-mâché. While Mortal marks the first time Smith has shown at Dallas Contemporary, the New York-based artist has a history in the area that includes a solo exhibition at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth (1996), a 2013 lecture at the Nasher Sculpture Center, and her year as artist-in-residence at the University
BY STEVE CARTER