The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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Alter ego provides artistic inspiration

As the final artist in Meadows Museum’s Visiting Artist Lecture Series, Michael Smith came to SMU’s campus on a rainy Wednesday night to discuss his works and share some of his projects.

Smith, who earned a BA from Colorado College, started out as a serious abstract painter.

However, Smith observed, “I got to the point where I didn’t know what to paint anymore.” So he had to look for inspiration elsewhere.

Inspiration came to him in the 1970s in the forms of performance art, which at first did not speak to him positively.

Later on, he frequented The Pickle Barrel Comedy Club, where “I went and started watching these comics perform and I was fascinated.”

He appreciated the comics’ abilities to keep the audience involved in their work, which was very much unlike the performance art he had initially observed.

From there he formed an alter ego, Mike Smith, the Bland Man or everyman, and let Mike’s life be the focal point of his performance art.

One aspect of the comedians that Smith chose not to emulate was their propensity toward humor by making fun of others.

“I decided if I’m gonna do humor at the expense of anybody, it’s going to be myself,” he said.

Smith pointed out that he responds to certain aspects of the modern world. During the Reagan era, Mike was photographed trying to use the computer; there was also a film in which he experiments with cable television.

Mike had also become the head of a company, Musco, which eventually turned to bankruptcy.

Smith referred to the company as his study of failure.

Contrary to his project with Musco, the lecture as a whole was a success. The Meadows Museum lecture hall rang with laughter as the audience enthusiastically responded to his film clips and photographs.

Amid all the laughter, one attendee asked why Smith decided to take up art instead of comedy.

His response: “They’re more open and patient in the art world.”

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