No internal organ or bodily fluid is beyond the pale for Kiki Smith, the internationally acclaimed artist perhaps best known for her depictions of female figures trailing viscera in their wake. Smith remains focused on the human and animal form. She spoke to PT about the artist's will—in conflict and in concert with the work he or she produces.
What was life like as a young artist?
[Life was about] being completely miserable and suffering, and seeing the deep necessity of making your own work, even in the face of it not making the slightest bit of difference to anyone else and having no choice but to throw massive quantities of it away.
Is the art world less radical than when you entered the scene?
All mediums are venues for radical expression. My iPhone has changed my life—I spend hours taking photos of the sidewalk as I walk down the street. I like the casualness, that it's low-resolution.
What's your advice for struggling artists?
Just do your work. And if the world needs your work it will come and get you. And if it doesn't, do your work anyway. You can have fantasies about having control over the world, but I know I can barely control my kitchen sink. That is the grace I'm given. Because when one can control things, one is limited to one's own vision.