Amidst the bustling streets of Lagos, a brand new cultural expedition is unfolding as TK Smith, a distinguished curator, writer, and cultural historian from Philadelphia, immerses himself in his month-long residency at G.A.S. Lagos. With a fervent passion for art of the African diasporic, TK's mission is to connect, collaborate, and contribute, fostering meaningful exchanges to shape a contemporary art narrative that transcends borders.
During his residency, TK seeks to foster collaborations, act as a bridge between communities, and share his expertise through public talks, studio visits, and critical discussions. With a laptop and a few books in tow, he aspires to delve into Lagos' artistic landscape, drawing inspiration from its history, craft traditions, and contemporary expressions. Through this enriching experience, TK Smith aims to further his role as a curator of African diasporic art, embracing the cultural exchange between Philadelphia and Lagos.
We invite you to follow TK Smith's journey through Lagos, and encourage you to reach out if you wish to engage with him or his practice.
What is the current focus of your creative practice?
As a Curator of African diasporic art, I spend a lot of my time with artists and art objects contemplating the impact of movement and cultural exchange. I am planning exhibition proposals and thinking through how I might best support artists. As a scholar, I study the art, the body, and the built environment.
Smith presents his research on community displacement in St. Louis at the 2018 Past/ Forward in San Francisco on behalf of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Photo courtesy of Past/ Forward Conference, 2018. (L) | Smith is interviewed by a local news station on the occasion of the 2023 exhibition "Tell Me What You Remember: Sue Williamson and Lebohang Kganye" at the Barnes Foundation. Photo courtesy of Carolyn Rivera, Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia. (R)
What drew you to apply for this residency and how do you think it will inform your wider practice?
This residency was encouraged and supported by my employer. It is an absolute privilege to be allowed to really engrain myself in the cultural scene in Lagos, one of the fastest growing scenes (in influence and size) in the world.
Smith as a Tina Dunkley Curatorial Fellow, assists in the mounting of an exhibition at the Zuckerman Museum of Art. Photo courtesy of Zuckerman Museum of Art, Kennesaw, Georgia.
Can you give us an insight into how you hope to use the opportunity?
I really want to learn, experience, and be helpful.
About TK Smith
TK Smith is a Philadelphia-based curator, writer, and cultural historian. Serving as the Assistant Curator: Art of the African Diaspora at the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia, he has curated impactful exhibitions, including projects at the Woodmere Museum of Art and the Zuckerman Museum of Art. TK's insightful writings have been featured in publications such as Art in America, the Brooklyn Rail, and ART PAPERS, where he contributes as a contributing editor. He is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in the History of American Civilization program at the University of Delaware, TK Smith is dedicated to exploring the intersections of art, body, and built environments.
About Barnes Foundation
The Barnes Foundation is a nonprofit cultural and educational institution that shares its unparalleled art collection with the public, organizes special exhibitions, and presents programming that fosters new ways of thinking about human creativity. Home to one of the world’s finest collections of impressionist, post-impressionist, and modern paintings, the Barnes integrates art and objects from across cultures and time periods to reveal the universal impulse to create, as well as the personal expression of each artist. The intimacy and unique character of Barnes’s galleries defy categorization and provide a haven for exploration, discovery, and rediscovery, no matter one’s background or familiarity with art.