Thursday, September 10, 2009

textiles and art : Kiki Smith

I've had this book floating around for a while.

Last week, I started to reread the interview by David Frankel and this jumped right out at me:

(Kiki Smith)...I was very influenced by Pattern and Decoration art, and I liked decorative things, so around 1979 I made pillowcases and sheets painted in fabric paint with cut-up arms and legs, an eye, and a mouth. Then I made a shirt painted the same way.

(David Frankel) Cut-up arms and legs are decorative?

They were how my internal psychic life felt. I was about twenty-six, and I felt all...not chopped up, but in disarray, fragile. I lived on cigarettes and whiskey, you know. And then the year before my father died, when I was twenty-six, I got a Gray's Anatomy, and I began to paint from it -- fat cells, nerve cells, blood. My sister Bebe had a a boyfriend who had brought back a lot of handwoven muslin from Mexico, and I started painting on it. That was probably an influence from Richard Tuttle, who lived with my family when I was a kid. I was very proud that my art was washable.


I thought that was very practical. And it also folded small, so there was a modesty -- you could keep these pieces in a cupboard, then take them out, like a rug merchant. ... *

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The idea of washable, practical, foldable, modest art... this interests me so much as I've been thinking a lot about the blurry overlap between art and craft. I was originally drawn to Kiki Smith's work because of her ideas of science and the body. But the more I learn about her, the more I realize she has an engagement with the art/craft overlap as well.

As I see the handmade/hand crafted grow and grow, this is something I think about more and more. I'm finding that the work I respond most positively to, whether "art", "craft" or in-between, is work that has at least a bit of both. And the work I drool over is work that's strong in both art and craft.

This interview has really sparked a lot of thought in me. Not only about art and craft, but conceptually too. Again and again, I find myself working with ideas about accounting and taking account, counting and categorizing, intimacy and voyeurism, concealing and revealing, and that which remains. With these thoughts in mind, I can't stop looking at these two pieces.

My Secret Business
duotone offset lithograph

Game Time

glass, blood, and silicone
(caption on the shelf reads: There are approx. 12 pints of blood in the human body)

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My thoughts are flying around.

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