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Art Watch : Emily Mae Smith

Emily Mae Smith is our Art Watch Artist for today. This section is brought to you by Art From Us and Divvya Nirula. The Artists we spotlight here can be from any field, across any discipline, and using a variety of media. We share here why we think they are important and worth watching. Be it genius creators of eras gone by. Or the upcoming contemporary artist who is yet to have their first show. All come under the purview of Art Watch.

A Pop-art colour-palette. A technique that is rooted in the classical tradition of the realists and naturalists. And a visual language that is very much in line with the surrealists. With all these, Emily Mae Smith keeps us on our toes. Ignoring the ‘prescribed’ parameters of art-history, she is charting a new approach to creating art. It is beyond the post-modern, as it is not rebelling nor raging against the past. It is a ‘pick ‘n’ mix’ approach. Her creativity just simply IS – for us to enjoy, and for her to create.

Emily Mae Smith is known by her classic creations and lively compositions that offer a ‘sly’ social and political commentary. The artist has deliberately has given a nod to distinct historical painting movements, such as symbolism, surrealism, and pop art and includes elements in her own creations.

Why Emily Mae Smith?

She has created her authentic visual vocabulary. And her lexicon of signs and symbols includes her avatar, and an anthropomorphic broomstick figure. This is important – because it plays various roles and it simultaneously references the painter’s brush, a domestic tool associated with women’s work, the phallus, the figure continually transforms across Smith’s body of work. She has created a complex web of ideas and reduced it to an innocent and simple looking form. Through this adoption of multifarious guises, the broom and other symbols speak to contemporary subjects. She is able to socially comment on issues surrounding gender, sexuality, capitalism, and violence.

When asked about the source of her inspiration – she says “Here’s a story: Around 2012 I got locked out of my studio building and while I waited for someone to show up and open the door, I found a discarded copy of Mary Karr’s memoir “The Liars’ Club” on the outside steps. I started reading it and couldn’t stop. It changed the way I look at personal experience and it gave me permission to put more subjectivity into my work.”

Smith has definitely started a dialogue with her own style.

Smith has been the subject of solo exhibitions at Le Consortium, Dijon, and the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, Connecticut.

She received her BFA from the University of Texas, Austin in 2002 and in 2006  she received her M.F.A. Visual Art, from Columbia University, New York


For more Artists handpicked by Divvya Nirula – explore the ART WATCH archive.

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