Born in Dayton, Ohio, Callie Smith is an artist currently based in Brooklyn, New York. She received her BFA in Painting and Drawing with a minor in French from Ohio University in 2021. She also lived and studied in Cannes, France, where she participated in the 2019 Cannes International Film Festival. Her studio practice explores perception, reality and illusion while questioning the individual’s role in shaping a more just, sustainable society. Her work can be seen on Instagram @calliesmith_art.
There is an anxiety which accompanies the experience of navigating a society which is failing its people. This reality manifests in many ways: irrational compulsions, sensations of abject disembodiment, the illusion of powerlessness, etc. I speak to these disorienting experiences through the creation of a surrealistic dream space in the form of large-scale oil paintings. By placing contorted, discorporate figures in ambiguous, amorphic environments, I aim to portray the liminal space occupied by myself and other members of my generation. My paintings are an invitation to those who share in this liminal existence to feel comforted in the knowledge that they are not alone, as well as activated to begin crafting a less nightmarish waking world.
In addition to painting, I have experimented with printmaking methods including screen, relief, and monotype printing. The repetitive nature of these print processes mirrors my experience with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, which often compels me to perform the same physical action over and over again. For me, these compulsions are as much a coping mechanism for experiencing the world as picking up a paintbrush.
Finally, my practice also explores the interconnectivity of and dialogue between different modes of art making. In collaboration with artists who work in the 4-dimensional modes of music and dance, I have worked to design interdisciplinary performance art pieces, as well as to attempt to visually document the ephemeral nature of these other art forms. These collaborations have informed my own studio practice by deepening my understanding of the function of my 2-dimensional, illusionistic work.
My work is about recognizing that the anxiety that I experience is inevitable as an actively engaged member of society. My goal is to channel the vertigo our world inflicts upon us and to harness the intensity behind those feelings to somehow fight back.