For Tropical Girls Who Have Considered Ethnogenesis When the Native Sun is Remote

Nominated by Jerry Vezzuso

Featuring Tiffany Smith

Using 19th century ethnographic photographs as a point of departure, “For Tropical Girls Who Have Considered Ethnogenesis When the Native Sun is Remote” presents fantastical self portraits that question identity constructs and the psychological implications of iconography. The artist casts herself, a self-proclaimed “home grown immigrant,” as the subject of an ethnographic survey of invented personas who author their own representations of a blended cultural heritage. Smith masquerades in costumes and throughout sets crafted to mine the personal and collective memory of cultural signifiers of the Caribbean and produce microcosmic explorations of the formation of cultural identity in multinational America.

Smith, who was raised between Nassau, Bahamas and Miami, Florida by parents of similar multinational upbringing, is the first generation in her family to be raised outside of the Caribbean. From an early age, she has navigated the path between assimilation and preservation of cultural identity, ultimately creating a hybrid identity that embodies the apex of her experiences.

Drawing inspiration from the choreopoem “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf” by Ntozake Shange, Smith’s vignettes use her own experiences and recalled memories to create performative studies that empower reclamation of representation.

Tiffany Smith is a cross disciplinary artist who employs primarily lens based media to create conceptually based work that explores notions of identity, individuality, community, and cultural ambiguity. Smith’s work aims to create new perspectives on dominant historical narratives and provide insight into issues surrounding communities and how they are formed and defined.

Smith received a BA in photography and graphic design from S.C.A.D. and an MFA in Photo, Video and Related Media from SVA. Smith’s work has been exhibited and published throughout the United States and in the Caribbean during the 2014 Jamaica Biennial. She currently resides and works in Brooklyn, NY.