Exhibition: Gwen Smith, ORIGIN
Dates: November 13 – 23, 2021
Opening reception: Saturday, November 13, 4 – 8pm
Address: 45 Main St #723, Brooklyn, NY
Gallery Hours: Tuesday – Saturday, 12 – 5pm
Justine Kurland Studio presents ORIGIN, the first solo exhibition of work by Gwen Smith in New York City.
In early 2021, Smith dreamt the birth of her great-grandfather, Reverend Edmund Oxley. This vision prompted Smith to begin ORIGIN, a series of collage-paintings which examine the self-replicating rhythms of art and human biology.
Smith dissects her own family albums, cutting apart photographs of her childhood and incorporating them into vibrantly colored paintings of female reproductive anatomy. Portraits of Smith’s ancestors emerge from psychedelic wombs, tracing the umbilical cord of her lineage through the folds and curves of the vaginal canal. Contemporary images of the artist herself morph into labia minora and majora, framing kaleidoscopic portals through which we see cycles of life passing over and over. In ORIGIN, the photographic art of mechanical reproduction becomes intertwined with the physical act of giving birth.
Much like Smith’s previous series The Black Woman Project, which celebrates the brilliant Black Women who make up her intellectual and cultural genealogy, ORIGIN pays homage to the power of the Black mother as a giver of life, the wellspring from whom history emerges.
Gwen Smith (b. 1968) received her BA from the University of Colorado, Boulder and later studied at the International Center of Photography. In the 90s, she worked as a Photography Assistant to Lorna Simpson and then as a Photography Research Editor for publications including Vogue and The New Yorker. Smith has been in numerous exhibitions at institutions including MoMA PS1; the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA; Castelli Gallery, NY; and Huxley Parlour, London. She has collaborated with her partner Haim Steinbach since 1993. Smith has published multiple monographs including The Black Woman Project (Volumes 1-3) and Island. She is a 2021-22 Artist in Residence at The Center for Book Arts in NYC. Smith lives and works in Long Island City, New York.