Smith is primarily self-taught, having attended the University of Hartford for a short period of time before moving to New York City, where she lives and works today. Her work, provocative yet empowering, addresses both topical and personal issues, universalizing the human condition. One of her better known works, Untitled, 1987-90, includes twelve glass jars, coated with silver, each labeled as a different bodily fluid. This piece challenges societal standards and the limitation of a boundary, both within the human body and its liquid secretions. The jars tackle concepts of identity and the common need for clarity of form. Smith has been the subject of many solo exhibitions domestically and internationally since 1982 and has been represented by Pace Gallery since 1994. Her work is included in the collections of the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., Hood Museum of Art, Whitney Museum of American Art, Walker Art Center, Detroit Institute of Arts, The Art Institute of Chicago, and many others. Smith received the International Sculpture Center Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016, was elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2005, awarded the 2009 Edward MacDonnell Medal, and has been featured in the Venice Biennale five times, most recently in 2017.
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