Shrine is please to announce Do You No Me: Mary T. Smith and B. Thom Stevenson. This exhibition pairs paintings by Southern self-taught artist, Mary T. Smith, with the stark work of Brooklyn, NY multimedia artist, B. Thom Stevenson. The title of the show is appropriated from a painting by Smith and poses the very simple, twofold question: Do you no (sic) me?
Mary T. Smith (1904-1995) was born in southern Mississippi and worked as a domestic servant throughout most of her adult life. Smith was born with significant hearing loss, which became more severe with age and made her speech difficult to understand. Given this impairment, she was only able to complete the fifth grade as there were no programs in that era for black students with disabilities. As part of the Southern tradition of "yard shows" that black artists used to decorate their property and convey messages that could not be openly voiced, Smith created an outdoor environment of incredibly graphic oil enamel paintings on found wood and pieces of corrugated roofing metal that she would drag home from a local garbage dump. Many of these works were crudely cut into figurative shapes with an ax, and her yard was filled with depictions of relatives, local townspeople, herself and often had almost illegible text inscriptions and mysterious symbols.
B. Thom Stevenson lives and works in Brooklyn, NY and is a multifaceted conceptual artist exploring the divide between cultures by reinterpreting and juxtaposing their symbolic artifacts with his own original imagery. Referencing worlds as disparate as Americana and Japanese cinema, Stevenson like Mary T. Smith, creates a unique vocabulary to explore and exploit language and imagery as tools of communication. B. Thom Stevenson has exhibited at MOMA, The Journal and Half Gallery in New York, as well as abroad at V1 in Copenhagen and Steinsland Berliner in Stockholm.
Do You No Me is the first in a series of shows at Shrine called Split. These exhibits match self-taught and emerging contemporary artists who unconsciously share affinities in themes, materials or intent.