Carrie Mae Smith, Four Plates and Four Forks

4619 West Washington Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90016
Feb 18, 2 PM - 5 PM — ends Mar 18, 2023
Lowell Ryan Projects is pleased to present a solo exhibition titled, Four Plates and Four Forks, by Upstate New York-based artist Carrie Mae Smith. Composed of recent small-scale paintings of various cutlery, china, cuts of meat, pastries, and domestic interior scenes softly rendered in oil paint, these works continue Smith’s exploration of domestic utilitarian objects, particularly with an interest in culinary articles and their social and historical implications. This will be Carrie Mae Smith’s first solo exhibition in Los Angeles and with the gallery.

Shape, light, color, and composition are meticulously explored in these luminous works, which are rendered in shades of blue, cream, gold, pinks, and saturated reds. These quiet paintings highlight the formal simplicity of a teacup and saucer, the abstract beauty of an uncooked lamb chop, and the exquisite sweetness of a lush square of cream sandwiched between layers of puff pastry. The daughter of a butcher, Smith supported her artistic practice early on working as a private chef. Quiet moments alone in the kitchen precipitated the contemplation of ingredients, serving ware, and culinary implements, as well as the meaning that can be associated with them. Fine china and silver have long been symbols of status, family, tradition, and history, while expensive cuts of meat and delicate pastries are not foods of the working class. As Smith’s focus has primarily shifted to her artistic practice, she continues however to contemplate the subtle meanings of these items in her work.

While savoring the act of painting, Smith’s process also references the gesture of serving. The act of serving a meal or a cup of tea now applies to family, friends, and loved ones, but through her paintings extends to the viewer as well. In the title work of the exhibition, Four Forks and Four Plates, 2022 a stack of four gold and teal-rimmed plates rest on a beige surface. Two forks are on top of the stack and two forks rest next to the plates as if waiting to be set out on the table in preparation for dinner, or possibly dessert. The soft cast of daylight reflects from the tongs of the forks and extends an almost lavender-hued shadow off the side of the china. The softness of Smith’s brushwork alludes to the effortless nature of setting down the plates and knives on the table, almost as if a second-nature movement. While the skill of Smith’s brushwork and the process of setting a table are not instinctive acts, but instead the result of years of practice, attention to detail and refinement, Carrie Mae Smith’s works allow the viewer to surrender to her process and relish in the moment of reflection and anticipation.