P.S. This is what I want to make art about

Sojourns in the Parallel World

by Denise Levertov

We live our lives of human passions,
cruelties, dreams, concepts,
crimes and the exercise of virtue
in and beside a world devoid
of our preoccupations, free
from apprehension—though affected,
certainly, by our actions. A world
parallel to our own though overlapping.
We call it ‘Nature: only reluctantly
admitting ourselves to be ‘Nature’ too.
Whenever we lose track of our own obsessions,
our self-concerns, because we drift for a minute,
an hour even, of pure (almost pure)
response to that insouciant life:
cloud, bird, fox, the flow of light, the dancing
pilgrimage of water, vast stillness
of spellbound ephemerae on a lit windowpane,
animal voices, mineral hum, wind
conversing with rain, ocean with rock, stuttering
of fire to coal—then something tethered
in us, hobbled like a donkey on its patch
of gnawed grass and thistles, breaks free.
No one discovers
just where we’ve been, when we’re caught up again
into our own sphere (where we must
return, indeed, to evolve our destinies)
—but we have changed, a little.

“Sojourns in the Parallel World” by Denise Levertov from Sands of the Well. © New Directions Books, 1994.


“Women Take Over” (catch phrase from SAM)

Haruko Nishimura from P. O’Brien | G. Miller on Vimeo.

This season in Seattle is over-run by women in the arts– prompted by the Seattle Art Museum’s “Elles: Women Artists from the Centre Pompidou, Paris” that has recently opened. I’ll have work in two exhibitions that also celebrate women artists: Elles at SAM Gallery and Homage to Elles at G.Gibson. The “gender question” is a lot like the “race question.” Many would have us believe that all is well and that we are now in an age marked by an even playing field. This is wishful thinking, yes? On the other hand, it is heartening to look at my own influences and see how many intelligent and passionate women have been instrumental for my vision of what was possible. (The video above is a recent one!) This place for the female voice in public discourse is still relatively new, and I don’t want to take it for granted, no matter how problematic the idea of the feminine may be as a category in itself.

…woman… cannot be seen as a fixed, pre-existing entity or frozen ‘image,’ transformed by this or that historical circumstance, but as a complex, mercurial and problematic signifier, mixed in its messages, resisting fixed interpretation or positioning despite the numerous attempts made in visual representation literally to put ‘woman’ in her place. Like the woman warrior, the term ‘woman’ fights back, and resists attempts to subdue its meaning or reduce it to some simple essence, universal, natural and, above all, unproblematic.” (Linda Nochlin, from “The Myth of the Woman Warrior”)

Here’s to the complex, mercurial and problematic!

Kiki Smith

Openings for the two shows mentioned above:

Elles at SAM Gallery: This Thursday, October 25th, 5-7

Homage to Elles at G.Gibson: First Thursday, November 1st, 6-8