(American, b. 1954).
Patinated Bronze, edition of 3, number 3 (silver nitrate).
70 x 36 x 18 inches.
Gund Gallery Collection; gift of Mr. and Mrs. Graham Gund ’63, 2015.2.44.
On Public View: Kenyon College, Gund Gallery, Fischman Lobby
Notions of home, feminism, domesticity, storytelling, and animals are themes that run concurrently throughout Kiki Smith’s body of work. Growing up, she took an interest in three-dimensional form as she often helped her father, artist Tony Smith, by making cardboard models for his sculptures. In the early 2000s, Kiki Smith’s figurative work evolved to focus on themes of life and death; femininity and patriarchy, which she often explored through allegorical relationships between humans and animals. Inspired by mythology, folktales, and her Catholic upbringing, Smith imagined feminist narratives based on figures such as Little Red Riding Hood and St. Genevieve. These stories informed the iconography of sculptures such as Her, a female nude figure standing upright and holding a small deer in front of her. The woman’s hands gently support the animal; her head leans in close to its body as the deer arches backward to rest its neck on her shoulder. Unlike human-animal relationships in traditional folk tales, which often establish predator-prey hierarchies, Smith shows the woman and animal in an unlikely pose that seems to imply their symbiosis. This pose dismantles predator/prey tropes in art and literature, which can symbolize hierarchies among humans, with women represented as submissive to patriarchal authority.
Caroline Chang `18