Kiki Smith

"Rapture" (2001) Bronze sculpture

         Kiki Smith’s piece, “Rapture” , like a majority of her work, is classic. With a hint of fairytales and tragic endings, this piece is stunning, yet out of the ordinary. When I first saw this piece the first thing that came to mind was the children’s story, “Little Red Riding Hood”, but a mature and more dark version of it. At first you would think that this has nothing to do with violence against women, but deep beyond the surface of the bronze sculpture it tells a story of its own.

         At a general glance the dark bronze color allows the two figures to collide together, but at the same time they have two completely different characteristics. To closely compare it to the children’s story “Little Red Riding Hood”, I think that the wolf plays its most natural role as the attacker, or “the big bad wolf“, and the grown adult women is the victim, or “little red riding hood”. Knowing the story, little red riding hood’s grandmother is eaten by the wolf, but in this case I see the woman having been eaten by the wolf, but through a different context. When I think that she has been “eaten” I think of her being attacked, and taken over by her attacker, just like a victim of violence.

         Kiki expresses in this piece that this woman has overcome her attacker, and fought to be free. Her body emerging from the wolf is the perfect expression of this action. I take the detail of the woman being naked, as she feels naked, and exposed, like most victims feel when their body has been violated. The “in motion” feel of the figure gives the idea that she is just getting out of the wolf’s body, with the swift motion of her hand swinging behind her, and her body tilting slightly forward. She has finally broke free, and isn’t letting anything stop her. Although her body gives off the idea of accomplishment, her facial expression holds the agony, fear, and sadness that has taken over her for however long she has been stuck inside this cavity of her “attacker”.

         Kiki Smith once stated, “Our culture seems to believe that it’s entertaining to teach women to be frightened” (Thoma, 2007). This statement explains a lot for this specific piece that she has created. With the unfortunate lack of respect towards women in our society, they feel that it is “ok” for these horrific situations to occur; without trying harder to stop what is happening. I think that this piece can greatly help those that have been victimized to such heinous crimes. Kiki’s piece can support those women, and help them overcome their fears.

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