The work of Michael E. Smith translates the resourcefulness and decay of his inner-city upbringing into art that is both thought-provoking and confounding. Frequently working with found objects or materials untypical of art practice, Smith disrupts our detachment from these abandoned fragments of an oversaturated material culture. By damaging, embellishing or sometimes simply presenting such objects, Smith encourages a confrontation with both their past and present. The human scale and deliberate starkness of the artworks can provoke reflection on the state of society today and the uncertainty we feel for its future.
He describes his small wall-based works as 'decoys', using resin, enamel and found objects to embellish canvases made from t-shirts and sweaters. Although Smith allows the garments to take on a new purpose, their scale remains reminiscent of an unseen person. By deliberately playing with the boundaries of objecthood and subjectivity in painting, Smith raises questions about the medium, its limitations and its possibilities.