The Ringling Presents Shinique Smith: Parade

Arts & Culture

Pictured: Shinique Smith's, Stargazers. Image courtesy of the artist.

Although the Ringling Museum of Art’s original 21 galleries have been open to the public since 1932 and are home to a vast collection of European art dating back from the medieval period to the 19th century, it doesn’t mean that they can’t evolve. It’s the Ringling after all, an organization devoted to bringing in new and interesting forms of art across genres and mediums. In their upcoming exhibition, Shinique Smith: Parade, opening on December 16, the museum looks to weave between the past and present: Smith’s work, primarily consisting of large-scale sculptures, will be displayed alongside the galleries’ permanent collections of European art.

“This is a really exciting project for many reasons and is my first collaboration with a living artist,” says Sarah Cartwright, the curator of the exhibition. “Shinique is best known for her large textile sculptures, which she calls bales as well as more figurative textiles that suggest human figures. We will have selections of her work in six different galleries, mostly consisting of her large-scale sculptures, but there will be one gallery which will have a case with smaller scale sculptures, drawings and other small scale work.”

Parade will feature a diverse collection of Smith’s work, including pieces from her personal collection that have never been publicly exhibited. While the presence of her work amidst the galleries of historic European art may at first seem strange and out of place, a deeper dive into Smith’s artistry provides a clear view of the intentionality behind the exhibit. “Shinique came for a site visit last year and was really excited about incorporating nods to the European collection but also to the history of the circus,” says Cartwright. “Her work deals with themes that relate to historic European art, like duality, mysticality, black femininity and even religion. For example, she has a series of works which are sculptures of reclining female figures–that fit in perfectly with our 18th century gallery which has large paintings of female figures.”

Through intertwining the past and present, Cartwright and the team at the Ringling hope to provide an even greater insight into Smith’s work.

December 16, 2023 to January 5, 2025, The Ringling Museum of Art, 5401 Bay Shore Rd, Sarasota.

Pictured: Shinique Smith's, Stargazers. Image courtesy of the artist.

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