Kiki Smith: Prints, Books, and Things

MoMA Audio: Special Exhibitions

Kiki Smith. All Souls. 1988

Screenprint on thirty-six attached sheets of handmade Thai paper, composition and sheet (overall): 71 1/4 x 181 1/8" (181 x 460 cm)
. Riva Castleman Endowment Fund. © 2018 Kiki Smith

NARRATOR: In the late 1980s Smith also began making screen-prints on delicate papers, printing the same image on dozens of sheets and then assembling the sheets into various formats. In 1988 she found this image of a fetus in a Japanese anatomy book and has repeated it in numerous works. Titled All Souls, this version, her most monumental by far, reflects Smith’s awe at the vastness of humanity as well as concerns about governmental controls over the body, child abuse, and undoubtedly also relates to her strong Catholic upbringing. The title refers to All Souls Day on the Christian calendar, the day of prayer reserved for souls in limbo.

KIKI SMITH: Some of my work is influenced by being Catholic, but not so much in the sense of a belief system as, that I am interested in the forms of the belief system, that convey a belief system. More like the forms and iconography that show up in Catholicism.

NARRATOR: It is also important to note that the very nature of printmaking leads to a collaborative process that Smith has thrived on. She has never had a studio of her own, preferring to visit foundries, workshops and university facilities where she is surrounded by nurturing colleagues. This is another attribute common to both her sculpture, and her printmaking. All around you are the fruits of these many collaborations.

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