The Chance Whale
The Chance Whale
Baxter St is proud to present The Chance Whale, the first solo show of 2022 Baxter St Resident and interdisciplinary artist, Gwen Smith. The Chance Whale surveys the coincidence of a pre-emancipatory history of Blackness and the sea as relating to ideas concealed in Herman Melville’s Moby Dick and Smith’s own surfer’s quest, her spiritual navigation from the womb to the ocean. The Chance Whale is a continuation of Smith’s Origin story, framing kaleidoscopic portals through which we view life and the cyclical passage of time. These surreal, highly saturated compositions are a means of exploring and connecting Smith’s Black American lineage, the African Diaspora, and the often complex relationships of Black people to nature, particularly to the ocean. The Chance Whale, like Moby Dick and surfing, is an allusion to being just on the verge of attaining freedom.
RSVP to the opening reception here.
Baxter St Residencies are supported by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund; The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts; public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council; and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Gwen Smith (b. 1968) received her BA from the University of Colorado, Boulder, in 1990, moved to New York City in 1991 and studied at the International Center of Photography. In the ‘90s, she first worked as a Photography Assistant and as a Photography Research Editor for publications including Vogue and The New Yorker,until she became a mother in 2004. Smith’s photographic practice has been ongoing, though her primary focus for the past 18 years was on raising her son River Steinbach. Founder of The Black Woman Project (Vol. 1 & 2) published in 2020, Smith has pursued a multidisciplinary approach to her art making. Smith was an 2021-2022 Artist in Residence at the Center for Book Arts, in NYC. In November of 2021 she debuted her photo collage paintings ORIGIN at Justine Kurland’s Studio. The Chance Whale is Smith’s first solo exhibition in NYC.