Amy Smith-Stewart is an independent curator based in New York.
What first got you interested in contemporary art?
It’s really tough to say. I was exposed to art early but my parents weren’t collectors or dealers. When I was a kid our basement was an art studio. We’d paint in our roller skates. I took my first art history class in high school. Then I was drawn to Weimer Germany & the New Objectivity movement, in particular Otto Dix’s dark, disquieting and seductive portraits of prostitutes, crippled soldiers and glitterati. Then when I was at NYU I spent a lot of time roaming the Soho galleries. There I first saw Damien Hirst, Matthew Barney, Douglas Gordon, Tony Oursler, Art Club 2000. And Charles Long whose playful sound sculptures blew my mind. So from there to here. I’ve always found my experience of contemporary art to be fundamentally about discovery, openness and inter-connectivity, bringing art and life together to create new possibilities of seeing ourselves and the world around us.
Tell us about an artwork you live with.
Ruth Root – a small colorful collage/work on paper. One of the first artworks I acquired and still one of my very favorites. Looks like a prefab with the American stripes and stars. It is the first thing you see when you enter my home and welcomes you with a wink and a giggle.
Artist quote or words to live by?
“Polka-dots can’t stay alone; like the communicative life of people, two or three polka-dots become movement… ” -Yayoi Kusama
The last show you saw that really grabbed you and why?
Forrest Bess at the Whitney. Quiet and eerie and mysterious. It gave me the shivers.
Also, while traveling in Bogota, I visited a private collection, where I encountered an incredible work — photographic documentation of a seminal performance, Performance as a Window Display, by the celebrated Colombian artist María Teresa Hincapié.
An artist more people should get acquainted with.
Georganne Deen. An artist, poet and musician originally from Texas, moved to LA in 1980 to attend California Institute of the Arts and now lives in Joshua Tree. Her work spans paintings, drawings and objects—partly informed by underground comix—-a provocative sensibility and an incredibly infectious visual language, she weaves image and text to create strangely beautiful narrative scenes about living and loving.