Chitlin' Circuit (2004)

As an encore to Smith’s 2006 exhibit, The Lower Ninth, Katrina, New Orleans and 2007 exhibit, At Freedom’s Door, Slavery in Baltimore, for the Reginald Lewis and Maryland Historical Society Museums in Baltimore, his most recent work addresses Black American’s influence on American culture by looking at black humor and entertainment.

Chitlin Circuit exhibition looks at the transformation of black humor from its’ West African origin, to plantation humor, to black face minstrelsy and Vaudeville, to the sophistication of Broadway and film. Chitlin circuit cabarets and theatres provided the venue for black entertainers such as Stepin Fetchit, Mantan Moreland, Rochester, Hattie McDaniel, ‘Moms’ Mabley, and Josephine Baker. Matured entertainers of more recent times include Sinbad, Dick Gregory, Bill Cosby, Eddie Murphy and Whoopi Goldberg. There is no question that the guarded humorous style of black entertainers has grown out of their experience as slaves and second-class citizens in America.

Smith continues his examination of the struggles of life of Africans in America; now through his paintings of an often-viewed lighter side of the African American experience.

Steppin' Out