Paul Chaat Smith delivers the eleventh annual AICA/USA Distinguished Critic Lecture in partnership with the Vera List Center for Art and Politics.
Entitled "Thirteen Months in America," Smith's talk probes the dilemmas of his curatorial process as he prepared the exhibition Americans, opening at the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian in early 2018. The exhibition highlights the ways in which American Indians have been part of the nation's identity since before the country began. In his lecture, Smith discusses how events since the election of November 2016 have challenged and reshaped many of his long held views about, as he say, "well, everything." The talk centers on the reality of the new American situation as Americans opens on the National Mall. Smith discusses his doubts and uncertainties while completing the preparations for the exhibition during a time of "monolithic tunnel vision on all sides."
Smith is a Comanche author, essayist, and curator. His books and exhibitions focus on the contemporary landscape of American Indian politics and culture. Smith joined the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian in 2001, where he currently serves as Associate Curator. His projects include the NMAI's history gallery, performance artist James Luna at the 2005 Venice Biennial, Fritz Scholder: Indian/Not Indian (2008), and Brian Jungen: Strange Comfort (2009). With Robert Warrior, he is the author of Like a Hurricane: the Indian Movement from Alcatraz to Wounded Knee (New Press, 1996), a standard text in Native studies and American history courses. His second book, Everything You Know about Indians Is Wrong, was published in 2009 by the University of Minnesota Press, and is now in its second printing. Appointed Critic in Residence three times in galleries in the U.S. and Canada, Smith's exhibitions and essays have explored the work of Richard Ray Whitman, Baco Ohama, Faye HeavyShield, Shelley Niro, Erica Lord, and Kent Monkman. Smith lives in Washington, D.C. His middle name is pronounced "chot," and rhymes with hot. He has no college or university degrees.
Previous AICA/USA Distinguished Critic Lectures at The New School have been delivered by Michael Brenson, Linda Nochlin, Roberta Smith, Holland Cotter, Peter Schjeldahl, Michelle Kuo, Lucy Lippard, Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, Naomi Beckwith, and Negar Azimi.
The AICA/USA Distinguished Critic Lecture at The New School is an annual celebration of an exemplary writer whose lecture addresses seminal issues in contemporary art criticism. The lecture is organized by the U.S. chapter of the International Association of Art Critics in partnership with the Vera List Center for Art and Politics. The collaboration fuses AICA/USA's dedication to art criticism as a rigorous discipline with the Vera List Center's commitment to discourse around the significance of art in responding to some of the most pressing social and political issues of our time. The organizations' robust partnership is amplified through the Vera List New School Art Collection Writing Awards, an educational program that supports the creative and critical thinking of New School students, inviting them to write about any of the 2,000 works in the University's art collection with the editorial oversight of a member of the AICA community.