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Cauleen Smith is an artist who makes films, installations, and objects. She actively invites engagement, and with much of the work she employs a purposeful undermining of image and language to elicit contemplation. Smith’s films create worlds that expand on the discourse of mid-twentieth-century experimental filmmaking. Drawing from structuralism, third world cinema, and science fiction, she assembles poetic compositions that gently reveal nuanced narratives, both familiar, and oftentimes, purposefully opaque. Her text-based tapestries follow a historic tradition of heraldry. These banners, which can be understood as a social device symbolizing community organizing, declare personalized idioms sewn in script that simulates her own handwriting, lifted directly from her sketchbook. Through her installations, Smith constructs archetypes of the universe and she assembles miniature worlds using myriad items, which often include mundane object and figurines alongside symbols of colonialism, such as porcelain objects and potted plants, paired with disco balls, rocks and minerals, resulting in something otherworldly and also museological. For Smith, consideration of the audience is an important element of her process, and she uses a full range of media and references to express her belief in utopian potentiality.

Cauleen Smith (b. Riverside, California, 1967) lives and works in Los Angeles, CA. She received her BFA from San Francisco State University, San Francisco, CA and her MFA from University of California, Los Angeles, CA. Smith’s works have been featured in solo exhibitions at institutions such as Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY; Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia, PA; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA; Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Chicago, IL; Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL; Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, North Adams, MA; Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, Houston, TX; and Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, PA, among others. Smith is the recipient of several grants and awards, including the Guggenheim Fellowship; Joyce Alexander Wein Artist Prize; Ellsworth Kelly Award; The Herb Alpert Award in the Arts; and a Rauschenberg Residency. Her work is included in numerous public collections, such as the Whitney Museum of American Art; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Art Institute of Chicago; Studio Museum Harlem; and Smithsonian Museum of American Art.

Artworks

[Left image: Recto | Right image: Verso]
Cauleen Smith
Give It or Leave It (Blue Heart), 2018
Satin, poly-satin, quilted pleather, upholstery, wool, felt, wool velvet, poly filling, and metal rod
62.25 x 45.5 x 2 inches
(158.1 x 115.6 x 5.1 cm)
Courtesy of Morán Morán

[Left image: Recto | Right image: Verso]
Cauleen Smith
Camera, Pen, or Gun?, 2017
Satin, poly-satin, silk-rayon velvet, indigo-dyed silk-rayon velvet, indigo-dyed silk satin, rayon-polyester ribbon, acrylic fabric paint, satin cord, poly-silk tassel, and sequins, and metal rod
73 x 47 inches
(185.4 x 119.4 cm)
Courtesy of Morán Morán

[Left image: Recto | Right image: Verso]
Cauleen Smith
I’m So Black That I Blind You, 2017
Satin, poly-satin, wool felt, silk-rayon velvet, embroidery floss, metallic thread, acrylic fabric paint, poly-silk tassels, sequins, and metal rod
67 × 51.875 inches
(170.2 × 131.8 cm)
Courtesy of Morán Morán

[Left image: Recto | Right image: Verso]
Cauleen Smith
The Comedians, 2017
Satin, poly-satin, silk-rayon velvet, indigo-dyed silk-rayon velvet, indigo-dyed silk satin, acrylic fabric paint, satin cord, poly-silk tassel, sequins, and metal rod
70 × 49.5 inches
(177.8 × 125.7 cm)
Courtesy of Morán Morán

[Left image: Recto | Right image: Verso]
Cauleen Smith
Give It or Leave It (Red Heart), 2018
Satin, poly-satin, quilted pleather, upholstery, wool, felt, wool velvet, poly filling, and metal rod
62.25 x 45.5 x 2 inches
(158.1 x 115.6 x 5.1 cm)
Courtesy of Morán Morán

[Left image: Recto | Right image: Verso]
Cauleen Smith
Leave Me For The Crows, 2017
Satin, poly-satin, silk-rayon velvet, indigo-dyed silk-rayon velvet, indigo-dyed silk satin, acrylic fabric paint, poly-silk tassel, sequins, and metal rod
78 x 51.5 inches
(198.1 x 130.8 cm)
Courtesy of Morán Morán

Cauleen Smith
Sojourner, 2018 (excerpt)
Digital video, color, and sound
22 minutes and 41 seconds
Edition of 5 plus 4AP
Courtesy of the artist and Morán Morán

Cauleen Smith
Pilgrim, 2017 (excerpt)
Digital video and 16 mm film transferred to digital video
7 minutes and 41 seconds
Edition of 5 plus 4AP
Courtesy of the artist and Morán Morán

Cauleen Smith
H-E-L-L-O, 2014 (excerpt)
Digital video with sound
11 minutes and 6 seconds
Edition of 5 plus 2AP
Courtesy of the artist and Morán Morán

Cauleen Smith
Orange Jumpsuit, 2019 (excerpt)
Digital video, color, and sound
22 minutes and 51 seconds
Edition of 5 plus 2AP
Courtesy of the artist and Morán Morán

Cauleen Smith
Crow Requiem, 2015 (excerpt)
Digital video with sound
11 minutes and 8 seconds
Edition of 5 plus 2AP
Courtesy of the artist and Morán Morán

Cauleen Smith
Three Songs About Liberation, 2017 (excerpt)
16 mm transferred to digital
9 minutes and 27 seconds
Edition of 5 plus 2AP
Courtesy of the artist and Morán Morán

Cauleen Smith
Covid Manifesto, April 13–June 16, 2020 (excerpt)
Video (color and sound)
34 minutes and 37 seconds
Edition of 5 plus 2AP
Courtesy of the artist and Morán Morán

Cauleen Smith
Light Up Your Life (For Sandra Bland), 2019
Neon, plexiglass, faceted hematite, and aluminum chain
66 x 48 inches
(167.6 x 121.9 cm)
Edition of 3 plus 1AP
Courtesy of Morán Morán

Cauleen Smith
Sinners Keep On Trying: Kanye, 2019
Glazed Cassius Basalt ceramic
14 × 8 x 8 inches
(35.5 × 20.3 x 20.3 cm)
Courtesy of Morán Morán

Cauleen Smith
Sinners Keep On Trying: Josephine Baker, 2019
Glazed Cassius Basalt ceramic
18 × 6 x 4 inches
(45.7 × 15.3 x 10.2 cm)
Courtesy of Morán Morán

[Clockwise]
Cauleen Smith
flyboy in the buttermilk, 2015
Cauleen Smith
Open Veins of Latin America, 2015
Cauleen Smith
Ain’t I A Woman, 2015
Cauleen Smith
The Autobiography of Malcolm X, 2015
All:
Graphite and watercolor on paper
12 × 8.5 inches, unframed
(30.5 × 21.6 cm, unframed)
Courtesy of Morán Morán

Cauleen Smith
In the Wake On Blackness and Being, 2019
Gouache on paper
12 x 9 inches, unframed
(30.5 x 22.9 cm, unframed)
Courtesy of Morán Morán

Cauleen Smith
Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers, 2019
Gouache on paper
12 x 9 inches, unframed
(30.5 x 22.9 cm, unframed)
Courtesy of Morán Morán