Shinique Smith’s mosaic mural for MLK Jr. Station playfully visualizes the cultural richness of South Los Angeles by collaging elements pulled from fashion, pop culture and calligraphy. Honoring the station’s namesake, the artwork also includes a selection of empowering words inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s speeches and autobiography. Mirrors within the mosaic bring movement to the piece and allow transit riders to see themselves reflected in the imagery.
In conjunction with her artwork, Smith has engaged the community through a series of events including hands-on activities for local families.
“The flow of the city, fashion, the graffiti of my youth and Japanese calligraphy influence these gestures, as I extract what I see as the graceful and spiritual qualities in the written word and everyday life.”
About the Artist
SHINIQUE SMITH (b. 1971) creates within a multidisciplinary practice that explores ideas of transformation and ritual through materials such as fabric, clothing, and personal belongings, breath, bundling, collage and gesture. She earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in fine arts from Maryland Institute College of Art and a Master of Arts in teaching from Museum School and Tufts University. Her works are included in the collections of the Brooklyn Museum, the Denver Art Museum, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Studio Museum in Harlem and the Whitney Museum of American Art and have been presented in more than 20 solo exhibitions at prestigious venues that include the California African American Museum; the Minneapolis Art Institute; the Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami; and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Among her accolades are awards from the Anonymous Was a Woman Award, Joan Mitchell Foundation and Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation, as well as through Skowhegan. She has completed public art commissions for the Chicago Transit Authority, Boston’s Rose Kennedy Greenway Conservancy and New York’s MTA Arts & Design.