On Speculative Touch


Touch is the elusive one. I can amplify sight, evoke viewing conditions (a candle flickers, making shadows dance) that suggest sounds and smells and even tastes (the Eucharist is but bread), but to tell my students to imagine the feel of ivory, its weight and warmth, only increases the distance I seek to diminish between them and the work of art.

Image of Kiki Smith's Untitled piece (Heart)



I’ve had an obsession with the work of Kiki Smith for some time. I think it was always there, nascent since my first introductory art history course decades ago, but really flourished after I saw a retrospective of her work at SFMOMA in 2005.