Shinique Smith
July 23, 2009

Shinique Smith, Bale Variant no. 0017, 2009 (detail)

Shinique Smith, Bale Variant No. 0017, 2009 (detail)

I don’t write about art exhibitions often, but two of my favorite words kept popping up in connection with Shinique Smith’s current show: “textiles” and “calligraphy.”

This dynamic multi-media solo exhibition, Ten Times Myself,  comprises new paintings, sculpture, and collages that incorporate used clothing, fragments and bunches of textiles, and funky found objects.  Ms. Smith’s work is influenced by Abstract Expressionism, rap music, pop culture, and Japanese calligraphy, among other things. The exhibition can be seen at the Yvon Lambert Gallery, in far west Chelsea, NYC, until July 31, but if you can’t get there, the gallery’s website has an excellent slideshow.

The photo above, which looks like a bundle of laundry, is a detail from one of the pieces in the exhibition, Bale Variant No. 0017, 2009.  Ms. Smith created it out of used and discarded clothing and fabric that has been commercially dyed from white into shades of indigo, written on, bound up, and finally reborn as sculpture.

Bale Variant is one of my favorite pieces from the exhibition; because it makes me nostalgic, believe it or not, for the bales of textile waste (which I used to ignore when I walked by them) that used to litter Mercer and Greene streets, when I lived there. I don’t know what actually became of those bales of rags, but they were on their way to be recycled, way before the word, and the neighborhood, were cool.

An example of Ms. Smith calligraphic style is shown below, in a detail from And The World Don’t Stop.

And the World Don't Stop

Ms. Smith has studied Japanese calligraphy, and her exuberant, swooping lines teeter between Japanese calligraphy and graffiti, — but they look to me like some styles of Arabic calligraphy as well.

So I recommend the show because it is original, thoughtful, and about fiber, and like too many of the shows that I write about, it will close soon.