Alexandria Smith’s art addresses issues of identity as informed by autobiography, fiction, myth, collective memory, and history. She depicts metaphysical beings in primordial settings who embody states of growth and transformation. Her interest in hybridity and experimentation encompasses drawings with collage elements, paintings with sculptural assemblage, and immersive installations. Smith builds up dimensional components in her painted works, recently further articulating their surfaces through the incorporation of 3D-printed parts.
Launched in 2020, Artist Spotlight is presented once a month as a regular part of the gallery’s programming. Each Artist Spotlight highlights a work by an individual artist—made available exclusively online for forty-eight hours—together with new editorial features and selected archival content.
Artist Spotlight: Alexandria Smith features a new painting by the artist. For more information, please contact the gallery at email@example.com.
Photo: Ollie Adegboye
Languorous undulations (in the temple of my familiar)
Alexandria Smith and Akwaeke Emezi take up themes of queerness, hybridity, and embodied memory in their respective visual and literary works. Here, Emezi responds to Smith’s painting Languorous undulations (in the temple of my familiar) (2022) with an eponymous piece of flash fiction.
Alexandria Smith Selects
Alexandria Smith has curated a selection of films that have influenced her practice for many years, as part of a series copresented by Gagosian and Metrograph. The program, on view in the theater and online from May 20 to June 2, 2022, features cinema exploring themes of loneliness through the prism of the fantastical; notions of family through spirituality; and the deconstruction of narrative through the disruption and manipulation of time.
The artist speaks with author Nalo Hopkinson about what it means to depict the body, the struggles to embark on new projects, and the contours of space and place in the creation of fiction and art.
Pretend Gravitas and Dream Aborted Givens
April 28–June 4, 2022
Park & 75, New York
October 6–November 5, 2022
Gagosian Shop, London
Alexandria Smith is taking over the Gagosian Shop in London’s historic Burlington Arcade with sitting with my skin, a presentation of new paintings and a suite of drawings housed in the artist’s custom frames.
Smith, head of painting at the Royal College of Art, makes innovative mixed-media works that address issues of identity and growth within a constantly evolving personal cosmology. The presentation in London follows Pretend Gravitas and Dream Aborted Givens, her first solo exhibition with the gallery, which debuted in New York earlier this year. For the new body of work, on view throughout the Shop, Smith builds up dimensional elements in her painted compositions, including for the first time 3D-printed components.
Smith will also curate the reading room on the main floor of the Shop, featuring books that inform her practice, which range from experimental science fiction to Black womanist literature.
Alexandria Smith takeover at the Gagosian Shop, London, 2022. Artwork © Alexandria Smith. Photo: Prudence Cuming Associates Ltd
Civitella Ranieri Foundation Fellow
Alexandria Smith was selected as a 2022 Civitella Ranieri Foundation Fellow. Through a nomination and jury process, the international residency program brings together artists, writers, and composers for six weeks to work both independently and communally at a castle in Umbria, Italy. Since its inception in 1995, Civitella Ranieri has been committed to seeking diverse populations of Fellows who encompass a wide range of backgrounds, beliefs, orientations, and values.
Photo: Marco Giugliarelli, courtesy Civitella Ranieri Foundation, 2022
Alexandria Smith Selects
May 20–June 2, 2022
Metrograph, New York
Alexandria Smith has curated a selection of films that have influenced her practice for many years, as part of a series copresented by Gagosian and Metrograph in the theater and online. The program will feature cinema exploring themes of loneliness through the prism of the fantastical; notions of family through spirituality; and the deconstruction of narrative through the disruption and manipulation of time.
Still from Daughters of the Dust (1991), directed by Julie Dash
Alexandria Smith and Liz Gre
Memoirs of a Ghost Girlhood: A Black Girl’s Window
Through Spring 2023
Currier Museum of Art, Manchester, New Hampshire
Alexandria Smith has created an immersive multimedia environment incorporating wallpaper, paintings on wood, found objects, and sculpture, which is accompanied by an original site-specific sound composition by Liz Gre. Smith’s work explores Black identity through the interweaving of collective memory, autobiography, and history. Smith and Gre researched Black history in New Hampshire and visited the Portsmouth African Burying Ground, among other spiritually significant sites. Gre’s sound piece, //windowed//, re-creates the sonic environments of Manchester and Portsmouth. It will evolve over time to include recordings from visitors in response to the installation.
Alexandria Smith, The grounded makes the spirited away, 2022 (detail) © Alexandria Smith
Seed to Harvest
September 1, 2019–June 5, 2022
Davis Museum, Wellesley College, Massachusetts
In this exhibition, Alexandria Smith’s visual symbology embellishes original photographic portraits commemorating some of the first Black graduates of Wellesley College. Smith, formerly assistant professor of painting at Wellesley (2016–19), highlights narratives from the graduates’ lives and memorializes their important contributions to the college and to the world. The show was commissioned by the Davis Museum’s Windows Invitational, which invites artists to transform the floor-to-ceiling windows of the museum’s lobby and courtyard plaza.
Installation view, Alexandria Smith: Seed to Harvest, Davis Museum, Wellesley College, Massachusetts, September 1, 2019–June 5, 2022. Artwork © Alexandria Smith
Monuments to an Effigy
April 7–August 18, 2019
Queens Museum, New York
Monuments to an Effigy takes the histories of the Olde Towne of Flushing Burial Ground and the Macedonia African Methodist Episcopal Church in Flushing, Queens, as points of departure for an exhibition that evokes an altar or commemorative space. In her work, Alexandria Smith explores narrative, memory, and myth through the lens of the Black female form and psyche. Rectifying stories that have been erased, in this exhibition, she honors the unnamed women laid to rest at the Olde Towne of Flushing Burial Ground (only men were named on the four marked gravestones found there) and those who participated in the Underground Railroad network in Flushing, which included the Macedonia AME Church.
Installation view, Alexandria Smith: Monuments to an Effigy, Queens Museum, New York, April 7–August 18, 2019. Artwork © Alexandria Smith. Photo: Hai Zhang, courtesy Queens Museum
A Litany for Survival
November 8, 2018–January 27, 2019
BU Art Galleries, Boston University
A Litany for Survival is an installation of recent figure-based paintings and drawings by Alexandria Smith. Exploring Black female subjectivity, Smith’s tonally rich canvases often centralize pairs of figures that reside within environments that are subtly political and, at times, intentionally nondescript. Depicted in profile, the figures are simultaneously mirror images and twins. Through these painterly acts of doubling, Smith embodies multiple states of being, while also exploring concepts of hybridity and duality.
Alexandria Smith, The Nocturnes, 2017 © Alexandria Smith