By David Brickman
Two artists of both shared and contrasting sensibilities are presented in solo shows at Skidmore College’s Tang Teaching Museum through the end of the year. Kiki Smith is by far the more famous and influential of the two; her show did not originate at the Tang, having been brought in from the Henry Art Gallery at the University of Washington in Seattle. Whiting Tennis, who hails from Seattle himself, is the subject of a Tang “Opener,” whereby the museum’s curators make a point of introducing an artist not previously broadly exposed in this area. So we have the known and the unknown side by side; the Seattle connection may be intended or not.
I Myself Have Seen It: Photography and Kiki Smith includes a very great number of photographs, but it also features sculptures, drawings, prints and mixed media, all of which are what the artist is widely known for producing. She is considered a feminist, in that her work runs counter to male-dominated viewpoints regarding the female body in art, and she is clearly very much of her time – a child of the ’60s and ’70s, wild and undisciplined in many ways.
The installation of I Myself Have Seen It is highly structured, however (see view at the top of this post), prominently featuring a narrow ledge at the bottom edge of the gallery’s walls that supports an array of countless 4×6-inch color prints in minimal plastic box-frames, running like a subtitled narrative below the entire text of the exhibition. On the walls are many larger, properly framed photographs, as well as the other works, in great big groups and sequences.