Born in Los Angeles in 1949, Alexis Smith studied painting at the University of California, Irvine. Throughout her career, Smith has exhibited extensively. Notable solo-exhibitions include: Riko Mizuno (1974, Los Angeles), Whitney Museum of American Art (1975, 1991, New York), Nicholas Wilder Gallery (1977, Los Angeles), Holly Solomon Gallery (1977, 1978, 1979, 1981, 1983, New York), Rosamund Felsen Gallery (1978, 1980, 1982, Los Angeles), Margo Leavin Gallery (1985, 1988, 1990, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1999, 2003, 2009, Los Angeles), Walker Art Center (1986, Minneapolis), Wexner Center for the Arts (1997, Columbus, Ohio), Greenberg Van Doren Gallery (2001, 2004, New York), and Honor Fraser Gallery (2013, Los Angeles).
Smith is known for her meticulously crafted mixed-media collages. Combining images, objects, and texts rescued from the detritus of popular culture—pulp novels of the 1940s and 1950s, postcards, road maps, movie stills, and advertising art—into witty, often sardonic statements, Smith examines and reconfigures American identity. In much of her work, the city of Los Angeles is a favored subject. Smith exploits the universal allure and fascination around Hollywood as the quintessential American transformational myth; the American Dream to ‘make it big.’ For her colorful mixed-media combinations and juxtapositions, Alexis Smith is a natural heiress to the spirit of Dada and Pop and the art of assemblagists such as Joseph Cornell.
Most recently, Smith’s work appeared in: Los Angeles: Birth of an Art Capital (Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, 2006) and WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution (2007, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles). Her work has also been featured in many landmark museum exhibitions, such as: American Narrative: 1967–1977 (1977, Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston), Making Their Mark: Women Artists Move Into the Mainstream, 1970–1985 (1989, Cincinnati Art Museum), Image World: Art and Media Culture (1989, Whitney Museum of American Art), Sunshine & Noir: Art in L.A., 1960–1997 (1997, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark), and Made in California: Art, Image, and Identity (2000, Los Angeles County Museum of Art).
Smith’s work is featured in the collections of major museums around the country, including: the Hammer Museum, University of California, Los Angeles; the High Museum of Art, Atlanta; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; the Museum of Modern Art; the Walker Art Center; and the Whitney Museum of American Art.