B. 1954 Unlike many artists of her generation, Kiki Smith did not study art in an academic setting. Instead, she learned by participating in Collaborative Projects (Colab), a New York-based cooperative that in the mid 1970s featured an active membership of over forty artists. Colab's philosophy of unorthodox methods and materials can be seen in Smith's use of doilies, glitter, string, and construction paper, and in her penchant for craft oriented processes such as Xerography and sewing.
Smith began making sculptures and drawings that isolated fluids, veins, skin, bones, sex organs, or hair into self-sufficient fragments. More recently, she has diversified her conceptual and technical approach to figuration, creating life-sized figures in a host of traditional and unconventional materials. Smith received the first of many one-person exhibitions in New York at Fawbush Gallery (1988); in 1990 Smith's work was the focus of the Museum of Modern Art's Projects series. She participated in the Whitney Museum of American Art's Biennial Exhibition in 1991 and 1993. Smith has received numerous solo national and international exhibitions, including at the Centre d'Arte Contemporaine in Geneva (1990), Institute for Contemporary Art in Amsterdam (1991), Louisiana Museum in Denmark (1993), Whitechapel Art Gallery (1994), Saint Louis Art Museum (1999), and the Museum of Modern Art in New York (2004). Solo exhibitions were also presented at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (2005), Walker Art Center (2006), Museum Haus Esters, Kunstmuseen Krefeld (2008), High Museum of Art in Atlanta (2011), and the Haus der Kunst in Munich (2018). Smith's work has been featured at five Venice Biennales, including the 2017 Biennale. Most recently, her prints and works on paper were featured in solo exhibitions at Modern Art Oxford in London, Monnaie de Paris in Paris, and Staatliche Graphische Sammlung in Munich.
Kiki Smith has been continuously recognized nationally and internationally for her work and contribution to art. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and in 2017 was awarded the title of Honorary Royal Academician by the Royal Academy of Arts, London. In 2006, Smith was recognized by TIME Magazine as one of the “TIME 100: The People Who Shape Our World.” She received the Skowhegan Medal for Sculpture in 2000, the Edward MacDowell Medal in 2009, the 2010 Nelson A. Rockefeller Award from Purchase College School of the Arts, the U.S. Department of State Medal of Arts in 2013, and the 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Sculpture Center.
Kiki Smith first visited ULAE in 1989, after director Bill Goldston saw her work in the Brooklyn Print Biennial and invited her to the studio. Since that time, Smith has made nearly 40 editions with ULAE, working in intaglio, lithography, xerox transfer, and pigmented inkjet, as well as including elements of collage, flocking, and, more recently, foiling.