“Social historian with a paste pot. Irony-edged archivist of the vernacular...Distiller of disillusionment, longing, and humor into a potent but sippable visual moonshine.”
— Alexis Smith as described by award winning poet and long-time collaborator Amy Gerstler.
Since her emergence in the early '70s, Alexis Smith has established herself as one of the foremost American artists working in collage. Her work, in both small and large scale, employs found materials, images, and texts, and has been acclaimed for its rich mixture of American consumer culture, feminism, and narrative.
Born in Los Angeles in 1949, Smith’s art has become synonymous with the city of her birth. She attended the University of California, Irvine and received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1970. Her work has been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions throughout the US, most notably at the Whitney Museum of American Art (1975 and 1991), the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston (1986), the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (1986), The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (1992), and the Wexner Center of the Arts, Columbus (1997).
Additionally, her work has appeared in countless group exhibitions around the world, including such prestigious shows as An International Survey of Recent Painting and Sculpture
(The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1984), Sunshine & Noir: Art in L.A. 1960-1997
(organized by the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebaek, 1997), and the Whitney Biennial Exhibition, in which she participated three times, in 1975, 1979, and 1981. She has received numerous awards, and was twice awarded a Fellowship Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (1976 and 1987). Smith’s commissioned projects include her famed Snake Path
at the University of California, San Diego; Taste
, her installation for the restaurant at the Getty Center, Los Angeles; and a large terrazzo floor for the Schottenstein Center sports arena at Ohio State University.
Although there is a Twin Peaks
duality to Smith’s authentically American vision—familiar but far-out, warm but somewhat warped, comforting but also disturbing—she shuns any notion of heavy-duty social critique. And despite her frequent resort to domestic imagery and exploration of gender roles— as in her deadpan Jane
series of 1985—she rejects being labeled a feminist.
“I’m interested in the transmission of experience,” she explains, “the way people manufacture the world, and the myths and stories that seem interconnected with that. But I don’t believe in cynicism. Cynicism does nobody any good, and I’m more committed to all the poignant contradictions of life.”
— Alexis Smith (from an interview with Martin Filler)
Biography courtesy of Margo Leavin Gallery, Los Angeles, CA, USA
wife of Scott Grieger
friend of Lynda Benglis
collaborated with Amy Gerstler
influenced by Robert Irwin
influenced by Craig Kauffman
influenced by Vija Celmins
Individual Artist Fellowship, Department of Cultural Affairs, City of Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, USA (2002)
Epoxy Terrazzo Job of the Century, National Terrazzo and Mosaic Association, Purcellville, VA, USA (2000)
Residency, The John D. Rockefeller Foundation's Bellagio Study and Conference Center, Bellagio, Italy (1995)