Alexandria Smith is a mixed media visual artist and co-organizer of the collective, Black Women Artists for Black Lives Matter (BWA for BLM). She 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. Alexandria lives and works in Brooklyn, NY and Wellesley, MA.
Smith is the recipient of numerous awards and residencies including most recently the Queens Museum | Jerome Foundation Fellowship; MacDowell, Bemis, Yaddo and LMCC Process Space residencies; a Pollock-Krasner Grant, the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture Fellowship, the Virginia A. Myers Fellowship at the University of Iowa and the Fine Arts Work Center Fellowship from 2013 - 2015. Her recent exhibitions include a forthcoming solo exhibition at the Queens Museum; the first annual Wanda D. Ewing Commission and solo exhibit at The Union for Contemporary Art in Omaha, NE; a traveling group exhibition called “Black Pulp” at Yale University, International Print Center NY (IPCNY), USF and Wesleyan University and a commission for the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Her work is currently included in "The Lure of the Dark: Contemporary Painters Conjure the Night"at Mass MoCA.
Humor and a dark probing of social issues are filtered through my own mythology: a cast of characters, symbols and landscapes that have developed in my work over the past five years. In this work, I use the language of print and paint media, as a conceptual and technical approach to investigate provisional themes of hybrid identities, domesticity, sexuality, time and space. In these works, I want to explore the power of the figure as it reaches monumental size and infiltrates an individual’s psychological space, allowing the viewer to see the world in new and unfamiliar ways. By interweaving narrative, memory and myth, politics and history, this body of work aims to break down distinctions between spectator and participant.
Interweaving memory, autobiography and history, my mixed media work explores the transformative girlhood experiences that shape the women we become and illuminates the complexities of Black identity. Through amorphous, hybrid characters, I obsessively deconstruct images of the female body: legs, hands and pigtails, for instance, become characters and landscapes-a topography of my psyche. The abstract tableaux created are a fictional, coming of age narrative that represents bodies in flux and brings up complicated notions of identity, gender, sexuality and psychology.
My practice – in both subject matter and studio preparation – is responsive to notions of race and cultural difference, and is defined by a unique relationship to the body. Utilizing my archive of completed paintings and drawings, I source printed images of my completed paintings to create new images through a regenerative collage process. Symbols prevalent in my work over the past five years are recreated through the use of various painting and printmaking methods.