Sean Smuda: 100 Creatives


No. 99: Sean Smuda

City: POHO(Powderhorn)/Phillips

Years spent living in MN: 2.7 x10

It's impossible to be active in the Twin Cities arts community and not be aware of Sean Smuda. Over the years he has explored many mediums of expression, from experimental music, to art, to performance. His photography has appeared in numerous publications, including Wired Magazine, the Star Tribune, and City Pages. His personal art projects are often simultaneously political, humorous, beautiful, and culturally relevant (recent work can be seen in a group show at the 801 Washington Lofts). If that isn't enough, Smuda is also a curator at the Shoebox Gallery (Lake Street and Chicago Avenue), a format-buster of a space that exhibits work in Roberts Shoes 11'x2' display case.


Name three things inspiring your work right now:

1. Artifacts
2. Borders
3. Couriers.

Name three things that inspired and/or motivated you as a budding creative type:

1. Director Sergei Eisenstein's theory of dialectic editing
2. The Time/Life Library of Photography
3. R.H. Blyth's Zen translations of Haiku

What was your last big project?

It was sending my project "Blown Derivatives" to Iraq, which involves myself and artists that I've invited scaling work to prayer-flag size to be hung in foreign environments. It also scatters ashes from 9-11. Both performative and ritualistic, it recognizes the horrific cause of the 'war on terror' and records exchanges across borders, both are acts of peace pursuing the spaces of freedom.

What do you have going on now or coming up in the near future that should be on our radar?

A show of my "Blueprint" series at the 801 Lofts [which opened last week and runs through February 11, 2011], a noise guitar performance at Magic Larry's this Sunday, the MOSAIC Commission at Metro State U in November, Frank Gaard's show (through Oct. 29), and the opening of a show by Arturo Cruz (in time for the elections) at the project space I run: The Shoebox Gallery.


Creative/career high point (so far)?: 

Showing with Ghalib Al-Mansoori at the Iraqi American Reconciliation Project's "Art of Conflict" show this summer. He's an amazing artist and head of arts education in Iraq.
What has been your biggest challenge as an artist (this can be logistical, financial, creative, etc.)?

Straight cash, homey.

How has the local scene changed since you began your career?

Galleries are more satellited, institutions more shuttered, and art investment generally more disappointing. People don't do payment plans, but buy computer-generated canvasses and prints from Musée Target. This is perhaps a younger demographic, whose attitudes are different than in NYC where they buy because they can see the higher light of intense artistic industry. The older invest more these days in blue-chip work recommended by taste-makers with pedigreed stamps: Yale, Midway, Weinstein, Chambers. There are many limbs no one goes out on.

Do you find yourself taking a different approach to a photography project for a magazine, like your Tapes 'n' Tapes spread, versus something more abstract, like your current exhibit, "Blueprint?" Or is there overlap?:

T 'n' 'T was a fun one. I'm still proud Mpls.St.Paul Magazine ran it! Both projects involved flags and an ideal of identity, land, and their possibilities. I abstract character and purpose from any assignment or inspiration towards the pitched field of an image, then reassemble its materials torwards an extension of social scope and poetry.

Want to learn more about Sean Smuda? Check out his website, the Iraqi American Reconciliation Project site, or take a trip to the 801 Washington Lofts


Do you have a suggestion for someone whose work we should be checking out? Feel free to leave your top picks in the comments.

Past creatives, so far:

100. Jennifer Davis