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It is unfortunate, hence, to find that craft materials and craft techniques are traditionally for the most part forbidden in the world of art. They are dismissed as merely utilitarian objects and have no aesthetic significance. Famed American born contemporary feminist artist Kiki Smith, however, has rewritten the rulebook. Smith’s steady rise as a star in the contemporary art scene is marvelous if not entirely surprising. Her critical success was achieved while employing the use of unconventional craft-oriented materials. Through the use of these materials, she is able to successfully depict the intimate, physical, and psychological perspectives of the human body for her audience. This break from tradition in the use of craft materials is only an aspect of the deviations of Smith’s arts. ...
Both of Smith parents are creative people. Her father, Tony Smith was an artist, the celebrated postwar abstract, minimalist sculptor and architect. Her mother, on the other hand, was an opera singer. Smith, hence, was exposed to a highly creative and artistic environment, considering the fact that both of her parents were artists. Particularly, she experienced steady exposure to the creative process from her father. His work has influenced the young Kiki in her artistic style. Tony Smith also maintained a vibrant household who played host to notable contemporary artists such as Jackson Pollack, Mark Rothko, and other gifted artists at the time.3 As a child, Smith would help her father make cardboard three-dimensional representations of what would later be known by the world as his geometrical sculptures. In 1967, his works in this area landed him in the cover of Times magazine. Smith’s father would always try his best to encourage her interest in art. For example, he would set up a box of cylinders and cones to practice her drawing skills. Another important aspect in Smith’s family that would leave an indelible mark on her as an artist is her religious upbringing. Her family was devoutly Catholic and she herself acknowledges her affinity with her religious denomination later in her adult life. Certainly, this variable would manifest in many of Smith’s artwork later on. In an interview with a magazine, she explained: Some people get free. Some people say that you don’t have to be, but I’m stuck with it. I’ve always been spiritual. That’s always been the most important part of my life, thinking about God or Gods.4 In her childhood, Smith already new that she was not interested in drawing what she saw but, rather, she was more interested in drawing ...Show more
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Summary

Jamie Levine  ARHS-592-01  Selected Problems: Art History I  November 23, 2011  Hilda Werschkul  Ideally, art is art as long as substance in the content is present and that it is powerful, no matter what media or materials the artist uses. Unfortunately, there are sectors in the art world - especially those in the fine arts field - that contend how craft materials are never aesthetic because they are functional objects.1 Even some who are more lenient and fairly reasonable authorities are also “unapproving” in their description…
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