Kiki Smith

Kiki Smith is an American artist specializing in painting, sculpture, printmaking, drawing, and photography. With a career that spans over three decades, Smith is an internationally renown artist whose boundary-pushing work often deals with investigations of the human body ranging from composition and structure to decay. Her work explores themes such as abortion, mortality, disease, nature, and body politics to name a few.


Smith’s ability to create work that is in touch with the changing social and political climate is a testament to her longevity. She successfully makes work that both raises awareness and simultaneously maintains a high level of artistry and craftmanship. In the mid-1980’s when abortion received an increasing amount of political attention, Smith created a series of work involving birth, reproduction, and the female body. Examples of these works include Uro-Genital System (Male) and Uro-Genital System (Female), both made in 1986, Womb (1986) and Untitled (1988-90).  Her work is often highly visceral, even jarring, as she maintains an honest, almost clinical, look at femininity, the body, and governmental and social mechanisms that are perpetually enforced on it.


In the 1990’s and 2000s, Smith’s work took root in animal form, environmental effects on the animal population, and animal/human behavioral patterns. Jersey Crows (1995) and Rapture (2002) are two notable pieces from this time period. From 2011 to 2014, Kiki has employed metal and glass amongst other materials to create sculptural works which depict natural occurrences and spiritual phenomena as well.  Her most recent exhibition entitled Wonder will be shown at Pace Gallery in New York until March 2014 and includes vast sculptural pieces that blend meaning and metaphor through its literal depictions of celestial occurrences, nature, and landscape.


Smith is the recipient of the U.S. Department of State Medal of Arts for Art in Embassies (2013), The Theo Westenberger Women of Excellence Award, and the Nelson A. Rockefeller Award from Purchase College’s School of the Arts (2010).  Additionally, she has been awarded Women in the Arts Award from the Brooklyn Museum (2009), The Medal Award from the School of Fine Arts, Boston (2006), and the Athena Award for Excellence in Printmaking from the Rhode Island School of Design (2006). Smith is represented by the Pace Gallery (since 1994) and currently lives and works in New York City.