Shinique Smith’s monumental, 28-foot-wide artwork, Memories of my youth streak by on the 23, captures a nostalgic remembrance of youth and the formative experiences that permeate the artist’s practice. It evokes the sentiment of gazing from her bus window witnessing the blending of storefronts and row houses while catching glimpses of her own reflection as the bus zoomed along its daily route. As viewers approach and move along the piece, they become entwined in the large, shaped mirrors that punctuate the surface, enabling them to immerse themselves in the experience of the artwork and relive the memory. The energetic brushstrokes parallel the movement of the bus, characterized by bold and expressive strokes that echo the gestural forms of action painting, graffiti, and calligraphy as the artist uses language as her vehicle toward mark making.
Accompanying works, from Smith’s 30 x 30-inch series, blend an array of disparate materials and modes of expression, offering fleeting glimpses into experiences that are both individual and universal. Each piece conjures an emotion that feels familiar but remains elusive, defying precise definition or classification. These glimpses into the artist’s recollections flatten her personal history and memories into a singular, continuous moment that collages everything that came before into the present, piece by piece heaped onto the canvas.
Smith’s creative process is guided not only by verse and lyrics but also by the act of titling her works for the last five years, forming a continuous poem with each title serving as a line. This collection of works in this show, spanning from 2019 to 2022, before, during, and after quarantine, share a common thread of hand, palette, materials, and intention. Together, these artworks and their titles form an ongoing free verse.
About the artist
Shinique Smith was born in Baltimore and lives and works in Los Angeles. She has exhibited extensively, including solo exhibitions at The Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art (Overland Park, KS), UBS Art Gallery (New York), Perez Art Museum (Miami), Baltimore Museum of Art, The Studio Museum (New York, NY), Smith College Museum of Art (Northampton, MA), Children’s Museum of the Arts (New York); the Barnes Foundation (Philadelphia); and The Wadsworth Atheneum (Hartford, CT). Smith’s works are in the permanent collections of The Brooklyn Museum of Art, The Whitney Museum of American Art (New York), The Denver Art Museum, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The Margulies Collection (Miami), The Rubell Museum (Miami), The Weatherspoon (Greensboro, NC) and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (Richmond), among other venues.
CMCA’s exhibition program is made possible in part by a grant from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts with additional support from Eleanor and Charlton Ames, Karen and Rob Brace, Eddie and Sylvia Brown, Stephanie L. Brown, Sheila Clark, Betsy and Edward Cohen, Cold Mountain Builders, Dowling Walsh Gallery, Pamela Wise and Mike Teague, Merrill Lynch (Washington, DC), Susan Petersmeyer and Lee Webb, and Carolyn and Craig Watson.