Alexandria Smith

Wellesley, MA

December 15, 2018 - January 11, 2019

Artist Statement

Interweaving memory, autobiography and history, my mixed media work explores the transformative girlhood experiences that shape the women we become and illuminates the complexities of Black identity. Through amorphous, hybrid characters, I obsessively deconstruct images of the female body: legs, hands and pigtails, for instance, become characters and landscapes-a topography of my psyche. The abstract tableaux created are a fictional, coming of age narrative that represents bodies in flux and brings up complicated notions of identity, gender, sexuality and psychology. Utilizing a cartoon vernacular and alluring, bold colors, these not-quite-adolescent figures activate a world in which the South, domestic interiors and magical realism collide to tell a mythical coming-of-age story that centers on the mental and emotional processes of self-discovery.

My practice – in both subject matter and studio preparation – is responsive to notions of race and cultural difference, and is defined by a unique relationship to the body.  Utilizing my archive of completed paintings and drawings, I source printed images of completed paintings to create new images through a regenerative collage process. Symbols prevalent in my work over the past five years are recreated through the use of various painting and printmaking methods. The process of collaging disparate elements is used as a metaphor for the ways in which our identities develop and the impact of our environment on who we become.

In my most recent series of paintings, figures dominate the canvas and explore concepts of hybridity, duality and environmental influences on identity development. They exist for their own pleasure and self-realization, a political act in itself and show a real spectrum of human emotions through politicized bodies. They are simultaneously a mirror image of a single figure and twins, which speaks to religious, spiritual and sexual states of being and reside in environments that are subtly political and oftentimes nondescript. I explore black subjectivity through color, dark light and shadows and incorporate ideas of the compression of time through mediations on light and space.

Alexandria Smith is a mixed media visual artist and co-organizer of the collective, Black Women Artists for Black Lives Matter (BWA for BLM). She earned her BFA in Illustration from Syracuse University, MA in Art Education from New York University, and MFA in Painting and Drawing from Parsons The New School for Design.

Smith is the recipient of numerous awards and residencies including: MacDowell, Bemis and Yaddo; LMCC Process Space Residency, a Pollock-Krasner Grant, the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture Fellowship, the Virginia A. Myers Fellowship at the University of Iowa and the Fine Arts Work Center Fellowship from 2013 - 2015. Her recent exhibitions include: the first annual Wanda D. Ewing Commission and solo exhibit at The Union for Contemporary Art in Omaha, NE, a traveling group exhibition called “Black Pulp” at Yale University, International Print Center NY (IPCNY), USF and Wesleyan University and a commission for the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Her work is currently included in "The Lure of the Dark: Contemporary Painters Conjure the Night" at Mass MoCA.

Artist Links

Artist website: