Continue playing

(Time remaining: )

Play from beginning

Play from beginning

Continue playing "{{ controller.videos[controller.getVideo(controller.currentVideo)].segmentParentTitle}}"

{{controller.videos[controller.getVideo(controller.currentVideo)].title}} has ended.

{{ currentTime | date:'HH:mm:ss':'+0000' }} / {{ totalTime | date:'HH:mm:ss':'+0000' }} {{ currentTime | date:'mm:ss':'+0000' }} / {{ totalTime | date:'mm:ss':'+0000' }} {{cue.title}}
Add to WatchlistRemove from Watchlist
Add to watchlist
Remove from watchlist

Video unavailable

Kiki Smith in "Stories"

“Basically, I think art is just a way to think,” remarks Kiki Smith, “it’s like standing in the wind and letting it pull you in whatever direction it wants to go.”

Adept in bronze, wax, textiles, and printmaking, the segment follows Smith on a journey through a diversity of narrative subjects including witches, saints, death, animals, family members, domestic objects, and dolls.

Smith explains her relationship to meaning in her work: “I’d rather make something that’s very open-ended that can have a meaning to me, but then it also can have a meaning to somebody else who can fill it up with their meaning.”

More information and credits


Created by: Susan Sollins & Susan Dowling. Executive Producer & Curator: Susan Sollins. Series Producer: Eve-Laure Moros Ortega. Associate Producer: Migs Wright. Assistant Curator: Wesley Miller. Production Manager: Alice Bertoni & Laura Recht. Production Coordinator: Kelly Shindler & Sara Simonson. Director of Education & Outreach: Jessica Hamlin. Consulting Director: Charles Atlas. Editor: Kate Taverna. Host Segment Artist: Charles Atlas. Host: John Waters. Director of Photography: Mark Falstad, Mead Hunt, Tom Hurwitz, Dave Insley, Cameron Wookyoung Kim, Ken Kobland, Nancy Schreiber, & Joel Shapiro. Sound: Rick Angelella, Taylor Braendel, Tom Bergin, Gordon Glascock, Sangil Han, Heidi Hesse, Jerry Stein, Scott Szabo, & Bill Wander. Gaffer/Grip: Kyle Carver, Mark Clark, Rodney French, Ned Hallick, Jeff Howison, Sam Insley, & John Roche. Assistant Camera: Jarred Alterman, Marie Chao, Chris de Gail, Anthony Fennell, Woosuck Goh, Brian Hwang, Steve Nealey, & Kipjaz Savoie. Host Make-Up: Betty Beebe. Production Assistant: Mark Chavarria, Eli Flugelman, Josh Kurz, Eric Kutner, Tony Petracci, & Matt Wright. Teleprompter: Dominic Anello. Additional Avid Editor (Kiki Smith segment): Lizzie Donahue. Assistant Avid Editor: Anne Alvergue, Heather Burack, Julie Farol, Geoff Gruetzmacher, & Eric Kutner. Still Photography: Alice Bertoni, Peter Krogh, & Fraser Stables.

Creative Consultant: Ed Sherin. Graphic Design & Animation: Open, New York. Animation, Visual Effects & Compositing: Spontaneous Combustion. On-Line Editor: Don Wyllie & Frame:Runner NYC. Composer: Peter Foley. Voice-Over Artist: Jace Alexander. Sound Editing: Margaret Crimmins, Greg Smith, & Dog Bark Sound. Sound Mix: Tony Volante & Soundtrack F/T. Animation Stand: Frank Ferrigno & Frame:Runner NYC.

Artworks courtesy of: Trenton Doyle Hancock; Kiki Smith; Do-Ho Suh; Kara Walker; Brent Sikkema; Dunn & Brown Contemporary, Dallas; Edwin A. Ulrich Museum of Art; Fabric Workshop & Museum, Philadelphia; Huntington Gallery, Massachusetts College of Art; James Cohan Gallery; Lehmann Maupin Gallery; MASS MoCA; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Pace Editions; Pace/MacGill; PaceWildenstein; Shoshana Wayne Gallery; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; Tony Smith Estate; & Whitney Museum of American Art. Archival footage courtesy of: Bradley B. Miller & Rachel-Anne Younger.

Special Thanks: The Art21 Board of Trustees; Asian Art Museum; Jamie Bennett; Ian Berry; Julia Sprinkel Downes; Talley Dunn; Tracey Frey; Ultan Guilfoyle; Harlan and Weaver; Holy Cross Cathedral Shekinah; Mark Janzen; Johnson Atelier; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Sue Patterson; Seattle Art Museum; The Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College; Two Palms Press; Jonathan Turer; & Gretchen Wagner.

Interns: Sharon Ber, Elana Davidian, Eliza Geddes, Karmin Guzder, Ehren Joseph, Lisa Kalikow, Lila Kanner, Crystal Kui, Daniela Leonard, Ronny Merdinger, Parth Savla, Kristen Smith, Whitney Smith, Morgan Soloski, Jo-ey Tang, Asya Varshishky, Jesse Whittle-Utter, & Jeremy Zilar.

Public Relations: Kelly & Salerno Communications. Legal Counsel: Albert Gottesman. Bookkeeper: William Handy.

Major underwriting for Season 2 of Art in the Twenty-First Century is provided by National Endowment for the Arts, PBS, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, The Allen Foundation for the Arts, Agnes Gund and Daniel Shapiro, Bloomberg, The Jon and Mary Shirley Foundation, Nonprofit Finance Fund, JPMorgan Chase, The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, New York Arts Recovery Fund, Peter Norton Family Foundation, New York Times Company Foundation, Dorothea L. Leonhart Foundation, and Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation.

Closed captionsAvailable in English, German, Romanian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Italian

Translate this video

Through the Art21 Translation Project, multilingual audiences from around the globe can contribute translations, making Art21 films more accessible worldwide.


Interested in showing this film in an exhibition or public screening? To license this video please visit Licensing & Reproduction.

Kiki Smith

In the 1980s, Kiki Smith literally turned the figurative tradition in sculpture inside out, creating objects and drawings based on organs, cellular forms, and the human nervous system. This body of work evolved to incorporate animals, domestic objects, and narrative tropes from classical mythology and folk tales. Life, death, and resurrection are thematic signposts in many of Smith’s installations and sculptures. The recurrent subject matter in Smith’s work has been the body as a receptacle for knowledge, belief, and storytelling.

“Basically, I think art is just a way to think. It’s like standing in the wind and letting it pull you in whatever direction it wants to go.”

Kiki Smith

More from "Stories"

Add to watchlist
Add to watchlist
Add to watchlist

Read 1


Learning by Looking—Witches, Catholicism, and Buddhist Art

Kiki Smith discusses how different spiritual elements and belief systems make their way into her work.