“Constellation” (1996), glass, bronze, and blue Nepal paper. Image courtesy of MASS MoCA.
Smith is often recognized for her feminist-slanted body art with allusions of philosophy, social and gender parity, and spirituality (often of the Catholic persuasion). In an interview with Art:21, Smith speaks to why religion and art are so intrinsically similar: Both believe in the physical manifestation of the spiritual world, that it’s through the physical world that you have spiritual life, that you have to be here physically in a body. And art is in a sense like a proof: it’s something that moves from your insides into the physical world, and at the same time it’s just a representation of your insides. It doesn’t rob you of your insides and it’s always different, but in a different form from your spirit.
However, the Foundation’s choice of a provocative, female, German artist like Smith highlights the fact that the present Eldridge Street Synagogue is an almost entirely secular presence on the landscape of the Lower East Side.
The sanctuary of the Eldridge Street Synagogue; the Smith and Gans collaboration will replace the glass block windows on the rear wall.
For more fun facts, scan Edward Rothstein’s New York Times 2007 article on the restoration process.