In Willful Matters, interdisciplinary visual artist and scholar Sarah Stefana Smith combines materiality, aesthetics, Black art and culture, and queer theory in two recent bodies of work that interrogate identity, Flag to the Abyss and Asymmetries/ Symmetries. Through imagery that is both provocative and contemplative, Smith challenges viewers to consider these intersecting ideas and how the lines of demarcation around difference – race, gender, or sexuality – are used to constitute and establish belonging.
Using cotton, plastic, netting, fiberglass screen, and thread, Smith interrogates meaning through the possibilities of materials in her textile-based weavings, Flag to the Abyss. As the artist explores the tension between the definable and opaque, the familiar and the abstract, they employ photography and sculptural works on paper in Symmetries/Asymmetries to reflect on the formal relationships between light and shadow, line and form.
Resisting transparency, and striving to express the boundless opacity of the marginalized subject, Smith engages viewers in Willful Matters to consider the relationship of these ideas within the context of Black and queer identity proposing they serve as a means for Black artists and cultural producers to exceed categorization.
Sarah Stefana Smith, Flag to the Abyss No. 3, 2022 (detail)
Sarah Stefana Smith, Asymmetries No. 4 or Symmetries/Asymmetries No. 9, 2022 (detail)
Sarah Stefana Smith, Flag to the Abyss No. 1, 2020 (detail)
Sarah Stefana Smith: Willful Matters is sponsored in part by The Maslow Family Foundation. Hospitality sponsors, Lake Champlain Chocolates, Farrell Distributing, and Prophecy Wines.
Burlington City Arts is supported in part by The Vermont Arts Council & the National Endowment for the Arts.