Artist Feature: Alexandria Smith
Editor Shenyah Webb, Art, March 29th, 2017
"young girls investigate the origins and manifestations of race and social taboo..."
SHENYAH WEBB: Illustrator, Alexandria Smith revisits her past through an alter ego character named Marjorie. Young pig-tailed Marjorie is sometimes depicted wearing a pillowcase over her head, other times in bits and pieces, taking the viewer on her otherworldly coming-of-age journey through space and time to discover where she belongs. Within this narrative, concepts of race, gender, identity, sexuality, and the psychology of self-discovery are brought to the surface.
ALEXANDRIA SMITH: My mixed media work explores the awkward terrain of the developing stages in forming a sense of personhood. These works include amalgamations of femininity that are a mass of limbs, pigtails, ribbons, and dresses that activate a world in which the South, domestic interiors, and magical realism collide. Psychologically, experiences in childhood affect us well into adulthood and are conjured up through memories connected to places, smells, sights, and social situations so I feel it is inevitable that Marjorie and I share qualities.
My practice – in both subject matter and studio preparation – is responsive to notions of race, cultural difference, and sexual identity, defined by a unique relationship to the body. Chronicling the experiences of being an African American middle-class girl in present-day society constitutes the main subject of my artistic inquiry. The child’s gaze delivers a twisted, yet intriguing, perspective as it confronts the viewer with horror and humor. Occupying environments that are neither bucolic nor urban, the young girls investigate the origins and manifestations of race and social taboo through their precocious purview.
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Alexandria Smith (b. 1981, Bronx, NY) earned her BFA in Illustration from Syracuse University, MA in Art Education from New York University, and MFA in Painting and Drawing from Parsons The New School for Design in 2010. Utilizing her archive of completed paintings and drawings, she sources her own work to create new images through a regenerative collage process where old work is re-contextualized into something new. Smith is the recipient of numerous awards and residencies. She has held several solo and group exhibitions in New York including a solo exhibit at Scaramouche Gallery, group exhibitions at The Schomburg Center, Thierry Goldberg Gallery, and Rush Arts Gallery. Smith lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.