Shinique Smith is a New York-based artist widely recognized for her monumental fabric sculptures and abstract paintings infused with calligraphy and collages. In her art, she uses recycled objects or memories to showcase the power of personal possessions — believing that humans collect meaningful keepsakes in search of their own paradise. Her work has become renowned in the past two decades for conveying inspiring messages of personal expression, energy, history and identity. Now, Smith’s globally acclaimed artwork comes to life with The Frame’s cutting-edge technology.
Samsung Newsroom sat down with Smith to discuss her artistic journey and the inspiration behind some of her work.
From Early Creative Exposure to a Varied and Flourishing Career
Q: Tell us a bit about yourself and your career as an artist. How did your early exposure to the art world influence your career?
I was born, raised and educated in Baltimore, Maryland. My mother made certain that creativity was integral to my upbringing. What began as arts and crafts in my early childhood inspired me to attend the Baltimore School for the Arts, where I completed my undergraduate and graduate studies in fine art and arts education.
In addition to my more than 12 years of arts education, my mother’s creative and intellectual endeavors — including fashion design, science, world religions and spiritual practices — were all influential and have become the conceptual core of my artistic practice.
Art has shaped my worldview since it is a lifelong study, pursuit and career.
Q: You work with many different media, ranging from sculpture to painting. What is your favorite to work with?
I consider sculpture and painting to be opposite sides of the same coin, and my favorite is when they influence each other. I create with many materials — paint, fabric, collage, photography and performance. I enjoy finding the connections and harmonies that resonate between them.
Q: Tell us a bit about your artistic process. How do you get from start to finish on a project?
Drawing is the foundation of my artistic process. I draw sketches of sculptures that I’ve already made or plan to make in the future. This keeps my mind and hands coordinated and fresh. Paintings begin with words translated into gestures on paper or canvas. From there, I build layers, edit and find connections of color and meaning in the elements that I add. The process is almost entirely intuitive.
Q: Do you recall a pivotal moment or experience in your career that still influences your work?
“Twilight’s Compendium,” a site-specific installation at the Denver Art Museum, is one of my most signficant works. I used my body to make prints on the wall and combined them with sculpture and collage to create my first large-scale installation. It was a catalog of blues and a collection of marks that I learned throughout the process — which I continue to use now.
An Intimate Museum in Samsung’s Art Store
Q: Your work has been displayed at institutions ranging from the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston to the New Museum in New York. How does displaying your work on The Frame compare to displaying it inside museums or galleries?
Both platforms grant access to a wide audience. In museums, the viewer must take in the work in a more public, fast-paced environment. The Frame, on the other hand, is like having a piece of the museum in an intimate space, giving the viewer more time to explore details of the work.
Q: You have a collection of public works in cities like Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco and more. How do you feel public works like these compare to your work that is widely available to users of The Frame?
My public works are available for people to see while in transit. They are monumentally scaled, from 60 to 150 feet. Some are indoors and at ground level, and others are outside and so high in the air that viewers must be at a distance to see the whole piece. All my works — wherever they are found — reveal intricate details upon closer observation, similar to viewing art on The Frame.
Q: What pieces would you recommend users display on The Frame? Please give a brief explanation of each.
“Angel” is a composite of three images I shot of one of my favorite hanging sculptures. With pink and rainbows, this piece is great to display on The Frame since not everyone has space for work like this in their home.
“Dusk” is a fabric wall sculpture and the only one that became a landscape made from clothing in my closet. I’m inspired by our quest for paradise and utopia through our keepsakes. For users, I hope it could be like viewing an imaginative rolling hill through a window.
“Memories of my youth streak by on the 23” is new to The Frame, and it is my favorite part of a mural-like mixed media painting. Through the cut mirrors, the viewer catches glimpses of themselves in the work — like my experience riding the bus to school as a teenager or seeing my window reflection against the cityscape.
Technology and Artistic Accessibility
Q: Do you feel there are any advantages to displaying your work digitally, such as on The Frame?
I love seeing my work in different scales and mediums. The Frame is a beautiful platform that gives the viewer the advantage of both variety and intimacy.
Q: Throughout your career, how have you seen technology influence the art world? How do you see this changing in the future?
Anything that causes a shift in society is reflected in the art world — technology has evolved so drastically that it has changed modern society with home computers, wireless cable TV, the internet and social media.
Disposable cameras and camcorders gave people wider access to photography and videography. Now, everyone can film, document and share every increment of life through their smartphones.
Looking to the future, everyone is talking about AI and using it to think and create for people. As we continue this exploration, I hope we will continue to rely on our own abilities and creativity.
Q: Do you have any upcoming projects you’re able to tell us about?
“Metamorph” will open in April at the Monique Meloche Gallery during EXPO Chicago. The exhibition will showcase new paintings, sculptures and works on paper inspired by butterflies, transformation and resilient beauty.
This July, I will also present a new large-scale sculptural installation at the Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields.
My latest exhibition, “Parade,” recently opened at The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art. The synergy between my contemporary fabric works and the adorned, draped figures of European master paintings is striking. Available until January 2025, the gallery will feature various talks and performances starting this May through the fall.
Visit Samsung Art Store in The Frame to see more of Shinique Smith’s artwork.