My Blue Lake

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Record 32/47
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Credit line Copyright retained by artist or artist's representative.
Collection General Collection
Artist Smith, Kiki
Date 1995
Object Print
Technique Photogravure with Lithograph
Dimensions H-43.5 W-54.75 inches
Description Image is horizontal in orientation. It is a print of three heads. Two heads are in profile and are on the left and right side. The face in the middle is a straight on view. The three heads are blended together so that it appears as one image. The person on the left has a daisy-like flower on the right shoulder. The image has a blue tint to it. The girl has reddish colored hair.
Exhibition Essay Kiki Smith's "My Blue Lake" (1995) is a work that showcases the artist's interest in conflating the body and the nature world. It sits above a comfortable couch often used for lounging or waiting for professors to show up to their offices. The blue of the piece plays off the orange-pink of the couch and two chairs very nicely, but this space is no art gallery. Surrounded by this academic work environment, Smith's work can be used to stimulate the mind on a number of subjects but is often viewed as wall decoration, a nice addition to this relaxing nook in a high charged academic building.

Keeping the body as central to her art, Smith examines body parts and functions that are culturally taboo and even embarrassing. While she traditionally creates sculpture, "My Blue Lake" shows a melding of photography and photogravure, allowing her to apply an artistic hand to a discipline known for removing such influence. This work is a self-portrait using peripheral photography, turning a 3-D figure into a rectangular, flat format. The resulting image resembles a lake surrounded by a dark brown landscape created by her hair. By using herself as the manipulated focus of this image, Smith is subjecting herself to all kinds of critique, from her artistic perspective to her own body. Her identity as an artist, as an individual, and as an art work have been conflated in this image making it much more than a blue print framed and hung over a comfy couch.
*Text included in Virtual Exhibit, "Corner Works"
Notes Kiki Smith is a feminist multi-media artist who, for the past twenty years, has explored the body from inside to outside, conflating the borders between the two. She has helped to restore the human body to a central place in contemporary art. She examines body functions and parts that are culturally taboo and embarrassing. She is best known for her sculptures; however, she creates pieces in a variety of media.
In "My Blue Lake" (1995) she used a peripheral camera owned by the British Museum in London to photograph her own body. Peripheral photography creates a rectilinear image of a cylindrical object. Working again with master printers at ULAE, Smith used the photographic negative from the peripheral camera to make a photogravure. A lithograph was made to give texture to the skin, and Smith added red and blue ink to the photogravure plate before each print was pulled, thereby creating monoprints in which every image is unique. In the final print, Smith’s body resembles a lake surrounded by the landscape of her hair.
*Web source information.
Object ID GC2000.6.1

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Last modified on: October 02, 2009