From her home in New York, which also serves as her studio, Kiki Smith talks about the ongoing experimentation that drives her art, from the provocative sculptures of the female body that made her a leading feminist artist in the 1980s, to her more recent work that draws inspiration from the nature.
'I don't try to set my work on any path or any direction. I really try to follow it,' she says. 'As much as possible I don't question my impetus or motive for doing something. I just do it and then see what happens.'
My name's Kiki Smith. I'm an artist living in New York City and we're in my living room where I work. From about late ’70s to the ’90s my work primarily used the image of a kind of visceral body of an anatomical body, then I stopped essentially and moved outside of the interior body.
I'm 59, so getting older, everything is dynamic and moving and things that you thought about that were paramount when you were 25 are not. I don’t need to think about the same things every day or every year to year. In the last couple of years, if I say I'm making sculpture, they're really these sort of flat wall pieces, or taking jewellery of mine and blowing it up large.
I always really love that very shallow space between something that occupies a wall space, like a painting or a drawing, and a sculpture. So, for me, a lot of the reasons to make things are really to have an experience of the process. I also work with a lot of artisans or people. I work in a lot of foundries or glass factories or print shops or stained glass factories, all different kinds of places, because I like working with people that are knowledgeable and have a deep craft. I like craft a lot.
Yeah, the Tate has small photogravures that I made about ten years ago. It was a series of five - I made five images of a witch and they were, in a certain way, playing with nineteenth century text and image. They are sort of humorous prints for me.
For me, in my work, I don’t try to set it in any path or any direction. I really try to follow it and I really believe in following it. As much as possible, don’t question my impetus or motive for doing something. I just do it and then see what happens. I'm not trying to get anywhere or I'm not trying to have my work mean anything or stand for anything or represent anything. In a way, it's a way to synthesise being here into a form that we can look at, or I can look at. In another way, it's about celebration of being here in this form now.