Artist Sable Elyse Smith Honored at Queens Museum Gala: ‘I’ve Always Known the Expanse of the World Was Greater Than Anyone’s Words’

At its annual gala on Thursday evening, the Queens Museum honored two of its board members, artist Sable Elyse Smith and designer Angelo Baque.

The evening’s festivities opened with a cocktail hour that was organized by digital producer Jaeki Cho of Righteous Eats that brought together tastings from five different Queens-based restaurants, all set against the iconic Unisphere in Flushing Meadows–Corona Park, just outside the Queens Museum, in addition to the institution’s two current solo shows for Aliza Nisenbaum and Tracey Rose.

Listen beautiful relax classics on our Youtube channel.

During dinner, the evening’s program began with remarks from Lauri Cumbo, the current commissioner of cultural affairs for New York City, and the museum’s director Sally Tallant, followed by a performance by Nick Hakim. That led into the honoree presentation.

“It’s beautiful and poetic to receive this honor from the Queens Museum,” Smith said during her remarks. “I just want to sincerely thank the Queens Museum for this honor, which is a way of the recognize and to recognize they must see. And what a surprise it’s been that the Queens Museum has seen me in many ways, over and over again.”

Smith added that being honored meant a lot to her, “especially as someone who grew up being told that they would never amount to anything by teachers and educators. … Because personally, I was never shaken by others’ sheer and utter racism. I’ve always known the expanse of the world was greater than anyone’s words.”

Smith had her first institutional solo show at the Queens Museum in 2017, which resulted from Smith being a Jerome Fellow at the museum. Curated by Hitomi Iwasaki, the exhibition established Smith as an important artist to pay attention to. The Whitney and MoMA ended up acquiring work that had appeared in that show, and last year, other pieces by Smith were exhibited in the Whitney Biennial and Venice Biennale.

“The Queens Museum set a path and a foundation for a lot of things that still permeate both my career and my life, so the show, the moment, the freedom, and the closeness and the friendship with the curator, a curator as an individual who cares for and is supposed to take care of art and artists—shoutout to Hitomi,” she said.

Smith had been introduced that evening by artist Salome Asega, who called Smith “my Leo twin flame,” adding, “Sable is a visionary artist who has established herself as a vibrant voice in contemporary art by simply telling the truth about what she sees, what she knows, and what she feels. Confrontation is generative. It’s conducted it shines a light on structures that some might think invisible, or too big to unfurl.”

She continued, “Sable has an acute awareness of how narratives can leave lasting impressions—ideologically and visually—on society, and in turn for closer imagination for what could be. But her work is not just about confronting structures or institutions. Sable challenges us to consider our own complicity in upholding systems of harm and asks us what can we do to develop new, abundant, and reparative visions for life and living? Sable gifts us a tapestry for possibility in her work.”

Following Smith, artist Shaniqwa Jarvis introduced Baque, who got his start as brand director for Supreme before launching his own label Awake NY, as well as Baque Creative and Angelo Baque Studios.

During his remarks, Baque, who was born and raised in Queens, spoke of his involvement with the Queens Museum, which was deepened during the pandemic when it launched Queens Museum Cultural Food Pantry, in partnership with La Jornada.

“I wanted to get involved,” Baque said. “You know, ‘community’ is a hot word in the fashion industry and the streetwear industry, but what a lot of people don’t understand about the word community is that community comes with action. You have to take action, and you have to participate in the community to actually create and be a part of a community. You can clap for that.”


No votes yet.
Please wait...