The life’s work of German-born artist Kiki Smith has been celebrated by critics and audiences and shown in prestigious exhibition venues around the world since the 1980s. Her haunting imagery – often evoking dreams, folklore, medieval manuscripts, natural history and anatomy textbook illustrations, but always with a contemporary twist – is rendered as fluidly in bronze sculpture as in lithography or jacquard tapestry.
Nowadays she’s headquartered part of the time in Catskill and drawing inspiration from the visions of the Hudson River School. “Since moving there, I have been enthralled by the Mawignack, the lowlands where the Catskill and Kaaterskill Creeks converge,” Smith reports.
A solo exhibition of site-specific work titled “From the Creek” opens on Saturday, August 12 at the Thomas Cole National Historic Site, with a reception from 5 to 7 p.m. It’s the second annual installment in the venue’s “Contemporary Art in Conversation with Cole” series. More than two dozen artworks will be mounted both inside the intimate spaces of Cole’s historic home and outside on the grounds.
“With Smith’s work, we are filling the inside of Cole’s home with, among other things, saplings, crystals and a wild kingdom of animals – deer, bats, birds – many of which can still be spotted roaming the Catskill terrain or inside a Cole painting. It was exciting to discover that Kiki has been making things that draw inspiration from the same places that propelled Cole,” says curator Kate Menconeri. “Her artworks have me thinking a lot about our interconnection with nature and the regenerative power it holds. Both artists share an interest in cycles, decay, rebirth and the fragility of the environment.”
“Kiki Smith: From the Creek” will be on view from August 12 through October 29. The outdoor installation can be visited between dawn and dusk, free of charge. The indoor installations can be viewed as part of a guided tour of the historic buildings offered Tuesday through Sunday, or during “explore at your own pace” hours on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, from 2 to 5 p.m.
The Thomas Cole National Historic Site is located at 218 Spring Street in Catskill. To find out more, visit www.thomascole.org.