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photo: Jimmie Allen

Liv Smith

Liv Smith

Seeking Philautia is about the obstacles I have faced on my journey to self-acceptance and self-love. As a biracial woman, throughout my life I have constantly been fighting prejudice. I grew up in a mostly Caucasian demographic where I was subject to racism, sexism, and fetishism. As one of the few young women of color in my community, I would often get the backhanded compliment that I was “pretty for a black girl” or perhaps that I was “the only black girl they’d fuck.” These statements were detrimental to my self-esteem. When I heard that I was “pretty for a black girl”, the message that was received was that I was pretty, but I was black. This association of blackness with ugliness skewed my perception of myself and made me want to accentuate my Eurocentric features. My skin could never be too dark, and my natural curls could never be seen. I had started hiding who I was and began trying to become someone that I wasn’t born to be.

As I grew into a young adult, I became more aware of myself and how I felt. I began to shed the false self that I had created in order to protect myself from the outside world and started taking the time to get to know my true self. My art started as a way for me to create beauty in the world, but slowly became a way for me to create a sanctuary where I was free from the perception and judgment of others. This idea of a safe space evolved, and I started to construct natural self-reflections. I combine my passion for ceramics, horticulture, and geology to express who I am and how I feel within.

To create these natural self-reflections, I build large anthropomorphic sculptures out of clay and I embed crystals as if they are growing from within my forms. I use these anthropomorphic forms to represent my physical being. While the live plants and crystals in my embedded in my forms represent the relationship between myself and my growing Philautia. My natural self-reflections have helped and continue to help me solve my own anxieties developed from dealing with constant prejudice and internalized trauma.

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