Crossroads Hotel

Paul Anthony Smith “DREAMS”

May 27 - Jul 31

Paul Anthony Smith (b. Jamaica, 1988; lives and works in New York) creates paintings and picotage on pigment prints that explore the artist’s autobiography, as well as issues of identity within the African diaspora. Referencing both W.E.B. Du Bois’ concept of double consciousness and Franz Fanon’s theory of diasporic cultural confusions caused by colonialism, Smith alludes to fences, borders and barrier to conceal and alter his subjects and landscapes.

Smith’s practice celebrates the rich and the complex histories of the post-colonial Caribbean and its people. Memory, migration and home are central to Smith’s work, which probes questions of hybrid identities between worlds old and new. Smith’s work is often patterned in the style of  Caribbean breeze block fences and modernist architectural elements that function as veils, meant both to obscure and to protect Smith’s subjects from external gaze. Forcing nuanced diasporic histories into a singular picture plane, Smith encourages layers of unease within these outwardly jovial portraits. The imagery serves as an access point as Smith interrogates which elements of identity are allowed to pass through the complexities of borders and migration.


What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
Like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore–
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over–
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

Paul Anthony Smith’s newest work, Dreams, models itself after the Harlem Renaissance Poet Langston Hughes’ poem, A Dream Deferred. Nodding to Andy Warhol’s paintings of flowers and the extraordinary value of those works, Smith’s large-scale paintings are constructed from images taken along the gardens of Fifth Avenue in the Upper East Side across from New York City’s Central Park where semi-impervious fencing both lures passersby and enforces distance. Smith’s work asks What is the American dream, in a context of impervious
class and place. Here, in Kansas City, these paintings consider local systems of oppression such as red lining along Troost Avenue, highlighting how neighborhoods are designed to segregate people, but also memorializes the intention required to maintain these divisions. Smith’s work speaks to beauty that remains beyond reach, and the barriers that we should explode.


@paulanthonysmithstudio |

Dreams is curated by Tiffany Meesha Thompson + Hesse McGraw, executive director, Contemporary Arts Museum Houston.

Crossroads Hotel gallery and art program is organized by El Dorado and Contemporary Arts Museum Houston

Thanks to Varnish and Vine  for their plant installation and collaboration for this exhibition.

See Paul’s concurrent solo exhibition at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, May 6th – October 2nd.

The Crossroads Hotel gallery is open to all, 24 / 7


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