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We consume, we consume, we discard… it's so wasteful
Shinique Smith in her studio. © Shinique Smith. Photo credit: Jeff Vespa

“I’m trying to transform everyday materials into a more beautiful gesture that makes us think about our place in the world,” explains Los Angeles-based artist Shinique Smith who is represented in the UBS Art Collection.

From December 5-8, works by Smith will be featured in two presentations at Art Basel Miami Beach – the result of a collaboration with UBS, the fair’s Global Lead Partner. In the UBS Lounge, the UBS Art Collection presents ‘Indelible Marks’, new sculptures, paintings and a site-specific installation by the artist. In the UBS Art Studio, a sculpture by Smith forms part of a display dedicated to #TOGETHERBAND, a global initiative that aims to raise awareness of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Smith hopes her work will encourage viewers to “find more meaning in the things they have.” New totemic sculptures incorporate hand-bound and dyed clothing, which she sources from thrift stores, family and friends, and her own closet. “We make too much to be consumed, so it’s constantly being cast off,” she explains. Each item of clothing has a story, referencing its previous owner while representing the potential for neglected materials to evolve and transform into art.

In the UBS Art Studio, the presentation dedicated to #TOGETHERBAND includes Smith’s sculpture 'Bale Variant No. 0021 (Christmas)', 2011/19, which is created from new and recycled textile materials. Launched by UBS and Bottletop, the #TOGETHERBAND campaign raises awareness of global challenges ranging from poverty to inequality and climate change. For Art Basel Miami Beach, Smith is supporting SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production, inspired by the vast nature of the things we create, consume and discard.

“I think #TOGETHERBAND is a brilliant and simple way to engage people in each of the Sustainable Development Goals,” says Smith. In addition to supporting the initiative, she believes artists have the potential to speak out: “through art, we can share different messages of awareness – through the materials we use, or the processes through which we create. Art opens peoples’ minds and comes into their hearts.”

For the display in the UBS Lounge “I wanted to focus on line and gesture,” explains Smith, whose diverse influences include Japanese calligraphy and graffiti. “When I go to make a painting, there is an immediate, intuitive gesture that comes through my brush. Sometimes it begins with writing and one big, sweeping movement – you have to be confident and make your mark.” She hopes that visitors will “discover a new aspect of me and what I do; that they come away feeling energized and inspired.”

The presentation in the UBS Lounge will also include works on paper by other artists from the UBS Art Collection including Brice Marden, Cecily Brown, Cy Twombly, Julie Mehretu and Helen Frankethaler. The works have been selected by Smith to accompany her own drawings and extend the theme of line and gesture.

Beginning January 27, 2020, ‘Indelible Marks’ will be shown at the UBS Art Gallery in New York – a new public gallery situated in UBS’s New York headquarters at 1285 Avenue of the Americas.

November 2019