United States of America
Conflating imagery mined from fairy tales and religious iconography, this print by American artist Kiki Smith reflects her central interest in mythology, the connection between humans and the natural world, and the cultural constructs of femininity. It depicts two female characters, a young girl and a grandmother, who relate closely to the characters in Little Red Riding Hood – a narrative that Smith has explored across sculpture, printmaking, painting, photography and drawing since 1999. These characters, in a tender embrace, appear to be emerging from the bloodied stomach of a wolf. And so, this classic narrative is repositioned. Here, the grandmother and girl are ‘reborn’ into a world where their relationship to power is no longer one of submission, but rather, of strength and resilience. Smith’s female characters from this period are often pictured alongside wolves, animals that have a unique ecological relationship with humans, at once feared for their wildness and revered for their cooperation and reciprocity. In a single picture, Smith is able to concentrate a multitude of ideas and perspectives that have driven her practice for over four decades.
Smith, in her catalogue raisonné, has also highlighted the art historical musings within the picture: 'If you take 'Born' out of the context of the story and just look at the image, I thought it looked like the figures were being born out of the wolf. And then I thought of works like Botticelli's Venus on the shell - the same image of a vertical and a horizontal, like the Virgin Mary on the moon'. And indeed, another layer of interpretation is added with the face of the girl and the grandmother based upon portraits of the artist.
lithograph on mould-made T.H. Saunders paper
AP7 [from edition of 28 + 7AP]
173.0 x 142.5 cm sheet; 187.0 x 156.5 x 6.5 cm frame
Purchased with funds provided by Hamish Parker 2019
Not on display
© Kiki Smith
Shown in 1 exhibition
Here we are, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 24 Aug 2019–13 Oct 2019
Referenced in 1 publication
Lisa Catt and Justin Paton, Here we are, Kiki Smith in conversation with Claire Eggleston, p.46-49, Sydney, Aug 2019, 46 (colour illus., detail) 48 (colour illus.).