THIS WEEK on the GWA Podcast, I interview one of the most pioneering artists alive today, Kiki Smith!

Born in 1954, in Germany, raised in New Jersey, and now based in the Catskills and New York City, where we are recording today, Kiki Smith is an artist who works across a whole range of mediums ranging from sculpture to printmaking, tapestry to collage. She focuses on subjects of mortality and decay, the body and the earth, what it means to be human and our relationship to nature. She has said: "Our bodies are basically stolen from us, and my work is about trying to reclaim one's own turf, or one's own vehicle of being here, to own it and to use it to look at how we are here.”

But it is this notion of collage that seems to be at the heart of her oeuvre – as she works with multiple forms, hybridised figures, and looks at both ancient mythology and contemporary politics, such as tragic events such as the AIDS crisis or the cruel laws around abortion. As a result, she has used materials such as bodily fluids to investigate subjects around death, reproduction and birth.

Working indefatigably since the 1970s, Smith, although having briefly studied at Hartford Art School in Connecticut, is for the most part self taught. She has described herself as a “thing-maker” and it is this desire and hunger for experimentation that makes her work so captivating and engaging. Studying the world by living and surrounding herself with nature, she has also since gone on to train as an emergency medical technician.

A professor at NYU and Columbia University, Smith has exhibited across the globe – from the Whitney museum to MoMA, The Whitechapel to, most recently, the Seoul Museum of Art in South Korea – and is in collections of some of the most renowned museums in the world. I couldn’t be more excited to be interviewing her today.

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Katy Hessel: @thegreatwomenartists / @katy.hessel

Sound editing by Mikaela Carmichael

Artwork by @thisisaliceskinner

Music by Ben Wetherfield


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