For more than a decade, multimedia artist Shinique Smith has employed new, used, and personal recycled clothing, fabrics, and objects—items that exist in the realm of what we call belongings—to construct sculptures, paintings, and site-specific installations. Examining the ways in which these objects resonate on a personal and social scale, Smith’s works operate at the convergence of consumption, displacement, and sanctuary. In Smith’s hands, these works reveal connections across space, time, and place to suggest the possibility of constructing worlds renewed by hopeful delight.
Refuge, Smith’s first solo show at CAAM, references landscapes of and for the displaced. The growing global epidemic of homelessness and the navigation of private/public for those nomadic populations are central to Smith’s exhibition. The lifecycles of care and use evident in found materials and shifting notions of home are mapped and unfold in the gallery space. Smith’s bundles and paintings propose moments of abundance, moments of rest, and moments of spiritual reflection.
Here, the deliberate acts involved in collage and assemblage are used to explore ideas of hope and belonging, as well as how we as human beings create and share refuge. Boundaries between object and subject, interior and exterior, and the forgotten and remembered are deferred in favor of a holistic and dynamic presence. Refuge proposes that we all belong to each other and have the capacity to build, shelter, and strengthen the ties that hold us together as a people.