Join artist Emily Mae Smith in conversation with Hirshhorn curator Anne Reeve to explore how she uses simple objects and techniques of artists in history to draw attention to important issues of our time.

Often using whimsical themes, humor, and an interplay of styles including Surrealism, Pop art, and Symbolism, Emily Mae Smith thoughtfully mines art history to question historic approaches to gender. She often depicts simple, everyday objects such as a needle, a paint brush, or, often, a broomstick as a nod to daily work, while also metaphorically calling attention to contemporary issues of gender, sexuality, capitalism, and violence.

A response to William Holman Hunt’s The Lady of Shalott (1888-1905), Smith’s oil painting on linen Unruly Thread (2019) is on view in with Put It This Way: (Re)Visions of the Hirshhorn Collection, on view at the museum through Fall 2023.


Emily Mae Smith was born in 1979 in Austin, Texas. She currently lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. In 2023, The Pond Society in Shanghai will present the first major exhibition of Smith’s work in China. Recent solo exhibitions include: Petzel Gallery, New York (2022); Galerie Perrotin, Paris (2021); Rodolphe Janssen, Brussels (2021, 2016); Simone Subal Gallery, New York (2020, 2017); SCAD Museum of Art, Savannah (2020); Marion Art Gallery, Rockefeller Arts Center, SUNY Fredonia (2020); Galerie Perrotin, Tokyo (2019); Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford (2019); Le Consortium Museum, Dijon (2018); Contemporary Fine Arts, Berlin (2018); Galerie Perrotin (with Genesis Belanger), New York (2018); SALTS (with Adam Henry), Basel (2017); Mary Mary, Glasgow (2016); and Laurel Gitlen, New York (2015). Select group exhibitions include: The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C. (2022); The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), Los Angeles (2022); 58th October Salon, Belgrade Biennale, Belgrade (2021); Columbus Museum of Art, Columbus (2021); Arsenal Contemporary, New York (2021); Cleveland Institute of Art, Cleveland (2020); Public Art Fund, New York (2020); Petzel Gallery, New York (2020); Hauser & Wirth, New York (2019); Arsenal art contemporain, Montreal (2019); Gio Marconi, Milan (2019); Peter Freeman Inc., New York (2018); Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York (2018); Lumber Room, Portland, OR (2017); König Galerie, Berlin (2016); The Moore Building, Miami (2015); and Skirball Museum, Cincinnati (2014).

Smith’s work is included in collections such as Arsenal Contemporary, Montreal; Blanton Museum of Art, Austin; The Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn; Columbus Museum of Art, Columbus; The Consortium Museum, Dijon; Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas; The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Museum Brandhorst, Munich; Powerlong Art Museum, Shanghai; Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Zuzeum Art Centre, Riga.

Image Credit: Courtesy of the artist and Petzel, New York