In the third edition of our Makers Series, we are honored to introduce our dear friend, Shinique Smith. Shinique is an internationally celebrated painter and sculptor known for her monumental abstraction of calligraphy textiles, collage and sculptures. Born in Baltimore, MD and residing in Los Angeles, her works have been exhibited by and are permanent collections of institutions such as Baltimore Museum of Art, MOMA PS1, The Brooklyn Museum of Art, The Denver Art Museum, The Studio Museum Of Harlem, The National Portrait Gallery, LACMA, The Kemper Museum and The Whitney Museum, among others. When gifted by the time I've shared with Shinique, I have always experienced spiritual connections to places of the divine revealed through her work, her generosity and creative wisdom.
I was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland. Now, I am living in Los Angeles and have been for four years. Growing up, my mother made everyday places and parks seem as magical as the ancient and sacred sites we have visited together around the world. This way of seeing and the privilege of experiencing these spaces encouraged me to make connections across time and space which influences my sculptures and paintings, and the range of materials I choose to work with.
Through gestures of bundling and tying, I create microcosms that include a myriad cultures and economic backgrounds. I am driven to ‘hold together’ and harmonize elements from the world around me and cull the potential magic that resides within fabric and objects. I have built my own complex vocabulary that weaves together calligraphy, private narratives, memories, patterns, and symbolism to reveal connections that resonate on a social and spiritual scale – to reveal how we are connected as a people.
I’ve been using denim as a surface and material in my work since 2002. At first, I channeled doodling on jeans or a denim binder, like when I was a teenager, as a form of meditation, making larger wall works with bleach, ballpoint pen and metal studs. Over the years, I have delved deeper into the history of denim and cotton and the history indigo and how this iconic piece of fashion is inextricably tied to the history of slavery and my African ancestry. I’ve created a performance that combines many aspects of my practice – combining brushwork, breath, ritual, bundling, cloth, cultural and historical inspirations. The presence of the body, my body and ideas of transformation reside in every gesture I make within this piece and much of my work.
Yes, I love whales and flora and fauna, and butterflies and weather patterns -All of what we call nature, but I have always felt that I am, and we are also a part of nature, as mammals and beings on this planet. I look for the poetry within human nature what we create alongside other animals for better or worse.
Yes it is. And expressing and measuring my place within it.
“Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” -Rev Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
“There’s no one youer than you.” – My mom via Dr. SeussPhotography, Cristina Trayfors