A Japanese caligraphy and graffiti mash-up by Shinique Smith.

Shinique Smith's "Menagerie" Opens at MOCA This Thursday

You hear celebrities from all corners of the arts and culture world saying things like "I can't believe I'm in the same room with such-and-such." The sheer thought of working alongside names such as Nan Goldin, Carl Andre, On Kawara, and Lawrence Weiner at Yvon Lambert Paris/New York would surely put a glimmer in any artist's eye. But

Shinique Smith

doesn't seem to get star-struck. "I think it's part of how people process information," she says quietly, "I guess I think about it more formally when those things come up, rather than the stature."

In person, Smith is elegant and composed, displaying a deep appreciation for those who have brought her work into Miami's art corpus. Referring to MOCA North Miami, which will house her first major US solo exhibition "Shinique Smith: Menagerie," she calls it "a top-notch museum. The entire staff is so open and helpful, and Bonnie Clearwater [Executive Director/Curator] is amazing to work with."

Somehow, Smith's humble attitude will make the prospect of the show's

opening this Thursday all the more gratifying. Encompassing a decade of

paintings, sculpture, film, and installation, Smith's work combines

expressive, gestural strokes of Japanese calligraphy, color field

painting and, to an extent, urban graffiti. Her works showcases

collected objects ranging from poignant (a child's blanket or birthday

balloon) to socially proliferate (bundled, overstocked clothing piled


"I find the things that we build and manufacture and discard as a part

of human life," she explains, "It's human nature. There's also a sorrow,

a need for more -- more that we can't use." "Menagerie" will appear as

its name suggests, as a strange and diverse collection of people and


"Shinique Smith: Menagerie" runs from this Thursday to November 19 at

the Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami (770 NE 125th St., North

Miami). General admission costs $5 and $3 for students and seniors. Call

305-893-6211 or visit mocanomi.org.

--Shana Mason

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