WMU News

Exhibit reflects slavery and plantation life

Dec. 16, 2004

KALAMAZOO--Chicago artist Cassandra Fay Smith is exhibiting her mixed media sculpture representing slavery and plantation life as part of the MLK celebration at Western Michigan University. The exhibition features Smith-created dolls representing field hands, house servants, runaways and free persons of color from the period before the U.S. Civil War.

The exhibit at the Space Gallery in Knauss Hall on WMU's main campus runs Jan. 19 through Feb. 17 and is open to the public free of charge weekdays from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

At noon Wednesday, Jan. 19, Smith gives a free, public talk in the Space Gallery about her art.

Smith calls herself an "ethnographic miniaturist." She is an historian and doll artist who translates the lives and history of real people into miniature dolls. While a researcher at the Smithsonian Institution and a history instructor at Howard University, she read hundreds of slave narratives, plantation journals and historical documents.

As an artist, Smith's work lies at the intersection of art, scholarship and fiction. Each doll has a personal fictional biography. Together, their individual stories show the wide range of experiences under the institution of slavery.

Smith has degrees in history from the University of Michigan and Howard University, an MBA from the University of Southern California, and an master's degree in creative writing from the University of Illinois. A writer and poet, her work has appeared in numerous publications including TriQuarterly and has been featured on National Public Radio's "This American Life."

Dolls and doll houses created by Smith have been exhibited in several venues including the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago.

For additional information, contact the School of Art Exhibitions Office at (269) 387-2455.

Media contact: Jackie Ruttinger, 269 387-2455, jacquelyn.ruttinger@wmich.edu

WMU News
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