Carrie Mae Smith must like food a lot because it’s a recurring theme in her work. A lot her recent works are very woody, of-the-home items but—previously—had included lumber bread and Cheetos sculptures, drawings of utensils, and collages that mash the female body with food. Her paintings best epitomize her interests in food, specifically in prep and dinner service. They study form and let her flex her painting talents by sharing still lives and points of view for diners.
Smith’s paintings can be seen as depicting what goes into making a meal. She paints some vegetables and chopped meats all being readied for preparation. They’re done in a way that arranges and rearranges items to inspect their form. Relatedly, her table setting paintings never see food on plates but instead are about the process of setting the table and getting ready to eat. They remind of still life works from young, UCLA alums Theodora Allen and Greta Waller, both of whom share a fluidity, movement, and basic quality to their works.
What’s interesting about Smith’s paintings in reference to her collages is that they relate very much relate to the point of view. Think of the acts: preparing the food and setting a table and sitting and waiting to eat. Nowhere in these works is eating actually taking place. The person whose gaze you assume is in a position where he or she has to work to make but cannot willingly partake. This reading may only be extracted from the works included on her website but with projects like Birthing Chairs and The Servant Question you cannot help but see that these paintings are images associated with servitude and antiquated gender roles. They do some much in such a simple way.
They can be appreciated in myriad forms, too. Whether you are probing the content for deeper meanings or just enjoying them for beautiful form studies, you can appreciate them as aesthetic victories. They are quite wonderful paintings that relate to a larger body of work, all of which will make you think. See more of Smith’s paintings here.