Artist's Statement: Shinique Smith

My work implies multiple reads and is informed by an enduring interest in how the vast expanse of “things” come to shape our experiences. Consistently questioning the reason for “things,” I reinterpret the connections we build our personal myths on through the objects that we hold on to and discard to expose how excess and waste are intimately related to personal meaning and market value, which resonate on a social, and spiritual scale.

Hip hop at its best, to me, is like “praise poetry.” The declaration of “I am . . . ” has had a strong influence on me and my work. “I am that I am” and “I am the bomb *&%$@!” is crucial to selfmanifestation. I’ve been a longtime fan of Giovanni’s poetry. Her poem “Woman” got me through some difficult times. I think that she and I are both warriors, as many women have had and continue to be. For my site-specific installation, I’ve used lyrics from rap songs, married with text from Nikki Giovanni’s poem, to “riff” calligraphically and to create 3-D mantras of found objects, script and clothing.

For me, my individual works could be read as a poem or line from a song. They are excerpts from larger stories that the past wearer of the clothing or owner of the objects participated in. This piece in particular honors the warrior women who have fueled me with their distinctive cries.

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