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Mimi Smith - Projects - Luis De Jesus Los Angeles

Mimi Smith
Nothing, 1983 
Acrylic paint, xerox on clock
11 x 4 in

The Myth of Normal: A Celebration of Authentic Expression looks at societal norms that have been codified over our collective past. Focusing on the achievements of MassArt’s alumni, this exhibition is guest-curated by Mari Spirito ’92, Executive Director of Protocinema, on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of Massachusetts College of Art and Design.

Gabor Maté’s 2022 book, The Myth of Normal: Trauma, Illness, and Healing in a Toxic Culture, written with Daniel Maté, examines beliefs and behaviors that are generally considered normal even though they are in fact making us emotionally and physically sick. Because of unhealthy norms, such as overworking, human beings are contorting themselves in order to survive day to day life. The Matés emphasize authentic expression as a means to work towards becoming whole. Building on the Matés’ writing, Spirito proposes that art, as a form of self-expression, plays a pivotal role in overall wellness.

The Myth of Normal: A Celebration of Authentic Expression takes over the museum: moving from the exterior to the lobby, foyer, and into both galleries.

Three thematic, interrelated groupings guide the visitor. The first zone holds artworks that address architecture as an extension of the body; the continuum of consciousness; breaking containment; and violence and violation. This section includes artworks by: Kate Finneran ’92;Chandra Méndez-Ortiz M’05; Shannon Palmer ’92; Heather Rowe ’93; and Zhidong Zhang M’20.

Deeper into the Bakalar Gallery untold and unheard histories, due to systemic and structural racism, sexism, homophobia, and classism, are revealed and personal stories interwoven, with Rashin Fahandej ’06; Tony Millionaire ’81; Loretta Park M’16; Luther Price ’87; Erin M. Riley ’07;Corinne Spencer ’10; Richard Streitmatter-Trần ’03; and Ezra Wube ’04.

Within the Matés’ complex research are findings that human emotional systems and immune systems are one and the same. This analysis is important, because it reveals that when we push down our emotions, we also push down our immune system. We do this when we are not expressing our honest feelings. We are forced to not be ourselves in order to survive in what has become a toxic modern society. This conformity makes us sick and gives us life-threatening diseases. Ascending to the Paine Gallery, we see a full expression, the museum roof has been digitally blown off, we encounter works by: Paul S. Briggs M’16; Nancy Callan ’96; Stephen Hamilton ’09; Maya Hayuk ’91; Gail Hendricks-Hill ’75; Christian Marclay ’80; Felipe Ortiz ’09; Jack Pierson ’86; Mark Skwarek ’01 and Joseph Hocking; Mimi Smith ’63; Tabboo! ’81; Kathleen White ’86; Jackie Winsor ’65; and Bahar Yürükoğlu M’11.

On the museum’s façade are newly commissioned public artworks by Cedric “Vise1” Douglas ’11; Steve Locke ’97, M'01, H’22; and in the foyer by Freedom Baird M’16. One way to counter this maladjustment is to share our real feelings with people we trust. Another way is to express our authentic ideas and emotions through art. Say what needs to be said, honestly and openly. Each of these artists have put authentic expression into action encouraging mutual re-learning, and well-being.

View MassArt Art Museum

Selected Works

Mimi Smith Steel Wool Camisole, 1992

Mimi Smith
Steel Wool Camisole, 1992
Silks, lace, steel wool, and hanger
28 x 18 x 5 in

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