Julia Kim Smith


MASKerade Baltimore Virtual Silent Auction and Mask Design Competition, 7-13 November, 2020, hosted by the Baltimore Community Foundation’s LGBTQ Fund to raise awareness and funds for issues facing the LGBTQ community in Baltimore. The fund helps organizations fighting discrimination, providing health services, producing arts and culture events and supporting LGBTQ youth with anti-bullying and suicide prevention programs. Funds from MASKerade are used to establish an endowment, ensuring vital support for LGBTQ youth programs in perpetuity.

Artist statement and biography:

I created 6 FT EVIL EYE MASK in 2020 for MASKerade Baltimore—a fundraiser hosted by the Baltimore Community Foundation’s LGBTQ Fund and Maryland Art Place to raise awareness and funds for issues facing the LGBTQ community in Baltimore. Both BCF and MAP are non-profits that I support.

I was interested in the way MASKerade encouraged artists to explore masks as form and fashion, and as political and social signifiers. As the daughter of Korean immigrants in the US, I have a long, self-preserving interest in fashion as social signifier. In the groundbreaking book Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning, Cathy Park Hong touched on this role of fashion when she wrote about David Dao, the Asian-American doctor who was brutalized and dragged off the United flight in 2017. She compared his black Patagonia sweater and khaki cap to camouflage, code for “I am not one to take up space or make a scene.” Horrifying because he looked like Dad to many of us.

I can see parallels between how the Asian community has been scapegoated for COVID and how the gay community was scapegoated for AIDS…. 6 FT EVIL EYE MASK does not blend in. The mask takes up space and makes a scene. Inspired by Met Gala gowns, voguing, and Rupaul’s Drag Race, I tried to create a mask with bling that demands us to look and pay attention.

Julia Kim Smith is a multidisciplinary artist whose work has been featured by Angry Asian ManAnimalArt F Cityartnet NewsGQHypebeastHyperallergicJuxtapozkottke.orgMs.Paper MagazineThe AtlanticThe Washington Post, and international media outlets. Her films have received premieres at Slamdance Film Festival, Cinequest Film Festival, Center For Asian American Media CAAMFest, San Francisco Documentary Film Festival, Brooklyn Film Festival, and Joe’s Pub. Smith has exhibited nationally and internationally with new media and feminist artists Renee Cox, Heather Dewey-Hagborg, Kate Durbin, Hasan Elahi, Coco Fusco, Poppy Jackson, Rupi Kaur, Sarah Maple, Haley Morris-Cafiero, Phranc, Joyce J. Scott, Annie Sprinkle, Diane Torr, Sue Williams, Martha Wilson, and Barbara Zucker.

Through her work, Smith addresses issues of racism, sexism, misrepresentation, and underrepresentation through traditional and new media. In particular, she is interested in the pervasive influence of the internet and its tools on society. She uses both to inform her practice and to question what constitutes truth—and whose truth?

November 2020
Designed in Baltimore, Maryland
Made in Baltimore, Maryland
Fabric mask, tape measures, embroidered evil eye patch, spray paint, enamel evil eye pin; hand-stitched and assembled
Collection of Steve Ziger

Images courtesy of Julia Kim Smith, © 2020 Julia Kim Smith