Meet a Staff Member: Madison Smith

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Madison Smith
Position at LATITUDE: 2018 Programming Fellow
Sun Sign: Pisces

What do you do at LATITUDE and how long have you been on the staff?

I am the 2018 Programming Fellow and have worked in this position for the past seven months. As Programming Fellow I work very closely with our artist in residence, manage the residency program, and assist in the conception and planning of resident events. I also oversee the Open Call Gallery and coordinate any additional LATITUDE events throughout the year.

Tell us about your art making practice. What ideas, materials, or people sit at the center of the work you do.

I am an interdisciplinary artist, art historian, and writer. My art making practice works with processes of piecing and patterning using mediums of fiber art and sculptural installation to convey ideas of flatness, intimacy, and autobiography. My writing practice examines dynamics of race and representation in art history and visual culture. I am often approaching writing through an institutional critique, trying to highlight subcultures that have been misrepresented or overlooked by the art world. 
I believe a connecting thread through my writing and art making is this idea of autobiography. It is another way of saying that I make artwork inspired by my life but through massaging and mining memories, I go through a process of re-discovery and use this to guide my material choices. Whether I am latching rugs or writing about girlhood, it is an exercise in unearthing that I feel is crucial to the way I make/think.

List three things that changed the way you look at/make art.

  1. Bell Hooks’ essay “Oppositional Gaze: Black Female Spectators” - fantastic essay on black female subjectivity and the politics of representation. 
  2. Maggie Nelson’s Bluets - I try to re-read this book once a year when I feel lost or uninspired. 
  3. “The Politics of Knitting” a class taught by Karolina Gnatowski - where I first learned to knit (continental style!)

What art, film, music, food, etc are you currently into?

So many of great rap albums were released this summer! I’ve been listening to Rico Nasty’s Nasty, City Girls’ Period, Tierra Whack’s Whack World, and BbyMutha’s Free Britnee. I am also reading Corazón by Yesika Salgado right now - would recommend for poetry readers! 

What’s a favorite childhood memory of yours?

My father is a musician and I have so many great memories of Funk and R&B music playing on the weekends. However, my favorite memory is from my pre-teen years. I would borrow my parents copy of Janet Jackson’s 2001 album All for You and listen to it so often that the CD was eventually unplayable. At the time I shared a bedroom with my sister and waited until she was out of the room to play the album out loud on our boombox. I remember singing (terribly) and dancing (terribly) to songs like “Come On Get Up” and “Someone To Call My Lover”. I think it was a way to release some of my pre-teen angst and focus on mirroring the unshakable confidence of Janet.

View a selection of Madison's work below: