Skip to main content

Keith Smith at Home

February 17–July 8, 2018

A life on paper

Friendship, love, desire: Keith Smith's life is an open book. For five decades, the Rochester-based artist has used surprising combinations of materials to chronicle his experiences. In this exhibition, explore an array of Smith's mixed-media photographs and prints, and—his specialty—handmade artist's books, most from his own collection.

In his work, Keith Smith irreverently disregards the supposed dividing lines between "fine art" (photography, etching, watercolor), "craft" (sewing, quilting, bookmaking), and "utilitarian technologies" (transparencies, photocopies). Although his subject matter is rooted in his personal life, he also grapples with universal themes such as self-representation, domesticity, and intimacy.

Smith frequently remarks that he is shy in life but not in his pictures. While he is a prolific artist who has enjoyed a successful teaching career and numerous exhibitions, he makes no secret about his reclusiveness. For him, "home" includes not only the physical confines of his house, but also his meditative introspection, his close-knit circle of friends and family, and his perpetual striving toward feeling "at home" in his own skin.

Main Building

About the Artist

Keith Smith (American, born Indiana, 1938) has made over 300 artist's books and has written over half a dozen seminal instructional manuals on bookbinding. His work is represented in leading public and private collections, including the Philadelphia Museum of Art; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Art Institute of Chicago; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. He has received two Guggenheim Fellowships (1972 and 1980) and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship (1978). Smith has taught at the Art Institute of Chicago and the Visual Studies Workshop in Rochester, where he currently resides.

Artist Keith Smith


Support for this exhibition was provided by The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation.


Amanda Bock, the Lynne and Harold Honickman Assistant Curator of Photographs

Check out other exhibitions

View full calendar