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Shinique Smith

American  •  b. 1971

Biography

In 2005, Shinique Amie Smith was among the 35 artists chosen for The Studio Museum in Harlem’s Frequency, an exhibition that continued the tradition of identifying a new generation of black artists that the museum had initiated nearly five years earlier with the groundbreaking show Freestyle. Exhibited next to the work of other emerging artists such as Nick Cave, Xaviera Simmons and Hank Willis Thomas, Shinique’s bale sculpture composed of second-hand clothing gained her critical attention. Ever since, she has made installations incorporating materials collected from communities and thrift shops, notably clothes, but also toys and other ephemera.

Smith was inspired to make sculpture from clothing after reading an article of how a shirt given by a woman in Manhattan to a local thrift store, made its way to a bale of used clothing and eventually was bought in Africa. While retaining the associations, Smith subsumes the material into a composition by tying the textiles together in cubes, bundles and dense assemblages.

 Exploring the connections and values we ascribe to objects, Smith addresses questions of abstraction, all the while probing how her material has both personal meaning, as well as social and cultural significance.

Insights

  • Selected honors: Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Biennial Award (2016); Joan Mitchell Foundation Fellowship (2008); New York Foundation for the Arts, Gregory Millard Fellowship in Sculpture (2007); Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture Fellowship (2003) 

“I think my work is very American, and the way we consume and cast off is unique to us.” 

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