Artist Kiki Smith

Notes on Cover Artist Kiki Smith

By Robert Kline

The cover art of Hoogland’s book Woods Wolf Girl (Wolsak andWynn, 2011), features “Born”, a 2002 work from American artist Kiki Smith. This magnificent painting is inspired by Little Red Riding Hood and anticipates imagery in Hoogland’s book of poetry.
Smith started working with the Little Red Riding Hood theme in 1999 when she created a sculpture called “Daughter.” Made of paper, the sculpture depicts a girl draped in a red cape whose face is covered in hair. In blending Little Red Riding Hood with the wolf, Smith calls attention to the relationships between humans and animals, good and evil, and men and women. This was just the beginning of a beautiful and wondrous preoccupation. “Daughter” is at once chilling and arresting, much like Smith’s other art that features wolves and girls. In a lithograph called “Landscape,” for example, a wolf stares at its viewer. “Companions,” on the other hand, features a wolf and a little girl facing each other as equals. Similarly, her 50-foot glass painting called “Gang of Girls and Pack of Wolves” shows girls walking in harmony with wolves and lambs. Smith’s art in the Red Riding Hood motif is full of the interplay between girls and wolves, and “Born” is no exception. Created in 2002, “Born” blends the fairytale with another one of Smith’s preoccupations, the story of St. Genevieve, patron saint of Paris. It is reminiscent of Smith’s famous bronze sculpture entitled “Rapture,” which depicts a girl stepping out of a wolf’s belly.

In all of these pieces, viewers confront the relationship between the girl and the wolf that dominate both Little Red Riding Hood and Woods Wolf Girl. However, both Smith and Hoogland’s versions of the fairytale investigate and take us beyond the characters we meet in Perrault’s and Grimm’s versions. Smith and Hoogland both challenge the notion that wolf and girl must stand in conflict with one another; both demonstrate that these characters are actually quite complex; and that they can be viewed as more similar to one another than different.

Kiki Smith’s range of artwork has won her numerous awards, most recently the Brooklyn Museum Women in the Arts Award (2009) and the 50th Edward MacDowell Medal (2009). She works with materials such as bronze, aluminum, wax, paper, glass, ceramic, and fabric. Born in Nuremberg, Germany, Smith grew up in New Jersey and moved to New York in 1976.  A sculptor himself, Smith’s father Tony brought prolific artists such as Mark Rothko and Jackson Pollock into the household in which Smith grew up. These and other influences shape the feminist artist whosework can be viewed in several prominent American museums, heard discussed on television’s The “L” Word, and now featured on the cover of Cornelia Hoogland’s Woods Wolf Girl.

Bibliography

Art 21. (2010). Kiki Smith: Biography. Retrieved April 8, 2011, from http://www.pbs.org/art21/artists/smith/

Bonner, S. (n.d.). Visualising Little Red Riding Hood. Retrieved April 8,2011, from http://www.ucl.ac.uk/english/graduate/issue/2/sarah.htm

McCormick, C. (n.d.). Kiki Smith. Retrieved April 8, 2011, from http://www.jca-online.com/ksmith.html

Sydell, L. (2006). Artist Kiki Smith: A Profile. Retrieved April 8, 2011,from http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6225036

Weitman, W. (2003). Kiki Smith: Prints, Books and Things. New York:Museum of Modern Art

Advertisements
  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: