Cauleen Smith is an interdisciplinary artist whose work reflects upon the everyday possibilities of the imagination. Operating in multiple materials and arenas, Smith roots her work firmly within the discourse of mid-twentieth-century experimental film. Drawing from structuralism, third world cinema, and science fiction, she makes things that deploy the tactics of these disciplines while offering a phenomenological experience for spectators and participants.
Smith was born in Riverside, California and grew up in Sacramento. She earned a BA in Creative Arts from San Francisco State University and an MFA from the University of California, Los Angeles School of Theater Film and Television. Smith is based in the great city of Chicago and serves as faculty for the Vermont College of Fine Arts low-residency MFA program and as visiting assistant professor at University of Illinois, Chicago. Her films, objects, and installations have been featured in group exhibitions at Studio Museum of Harlem, Houston Contemporary Art Museum, Yerba Buena Center for Art, New Museum, D21 Leipzig, and Decad, Berlin. She has had solo shows for her films and installations at The Kitchen, and at MCA Chicago and threewalls in Chicago. She shows her drawings and 2D work with Corbett vs. Dempsey and Kate Werble.
Smith is the recipient of several grants and awards including the Rockefeller Media Arts Award, Creative Capital Film /Video, 3Arts Award in Chicago, the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, Artadia Award, and 3Arts Residency Fellowship at The Rauschenberg Residency. Smith was a 2016 Recipient for the Herb Alpert Awards in the Arts in Film and Video, and is the 2016 inaugural recipient of the Ellsworth Kelly Award. Along with Lana Lin, Smith co-programmed a series of experimental films for Flaherty NYC Spring 2016. She is one of the artists in the 2017 Whitney Biennial and her films were featured at Flaherty NYC Fall 2016.