A detour past narrative and wonderland

To take a detour… I’ve taking a brief rest from text based artists. I’ve always loved Kiki Smith, and feeling in desperate need of some inspiration, I started looking again at her. I love that her pieces invoke narrative, she is inspired by narratives such as fairytale, myths – and this inspiration seems to embed a sense that something is about to happen, at any moment, with the sculptures and drawings she creates.

As I was looking, I found images from the Brooklyn Museum of Art, which held a new exhibition of hers, Sojourn, until just recently ( closed Sept 12th). Many of the images below are from their online site.

As I sit, in what feels like a vacuum, away from home, I’m hoping for this same sense of anticipation, the feeling that anything could happen, in my life, and so I looked at, and loved, these…


From Brooklyn Museum of Art

“Come Away from Her”

Come Away from Her is based on a manuscript drawing by Lewis Carroll for his book Alice’s Adventures Under Ground (1864). At this point in his story, friendly birds fly off when Alice talks about what her cat likes to eat. In Kiki Smith’s prints based on fairytales, childhood vulnerability and innocence like Alice’s can be imbued with a sense of the sexual awakening that accompanies adolescence, and the animals sometimes shown with young girls suggest underlying forces of nature. Here we witness a cryptic scene, as Alice watches winged forms, some of them with incongruous limbs, fly away from her.

taken from



( from http://poppytalk.blogspot.com/2010/06/sycamore-street-press-kiki-smith-at.html– no title listed)

Ave Gracia Plena Dominus Tecum, 2000


Messenger III 2007

Visitation of the Bird II, 2007

I like how she uses birds as messengers, and symbols of things to come, dead birds often appearing in her work as meditations of mortality.

Bird with Stars 2005



About CT

Claire Townsend is a freelance costume designer/maker and theatre practitioner.
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