'The Black Women Project' collects artist Gwen Smith's portraits in a new book

The second volume features portraits of renowned artists, scientists, educators, politicians, writers, poets and performers.

by Roisin Lanigan
17 November 2020, 4:39pm

Imagery courtesy of Dover Street Market

The second volume of artist Gwen Smith’s The Black Women Project has been released this week at Dover Street Market London and New York. The latest volume, as with the first, is a collection of the artist’s painted portraits of renowned Black women who have visited her studio in the past two and a half years. The result is a collection of portraits of some of the world’s most renowned artists, scientists, educators, politicians, writers, poets and performers. 


Given that The Black Women Project: Volume 1 took two years to complete — coming to fruition in 2020 after Gwen began the collection in 2018 — we might have expected to have to wait a while for this new release. But the coronavirus pandemic has had an unlikely silver lining in that respect, with the artist finishing Volume 2 in just six months during lockdown in her home city of New York

The newly released volume also charts the evolution of Gwen’s work, with her intimate painted portraits becoming, rather than just a system of documentation for women the artist admires, a visualisation and vocalisation of the abundance of Black women’s contributions to their fields, and their ability to endure and thrive against the odds. The book is not just then, a collection of portraits, but an exploration of Gwen Smith’s connections to a community of women, and the addition of her own voice and image to that canon.


The Black Women Project is available now at Dover Street Market Los Angeles, Dover Street Market New York and on the DSMNY E-SHOP.

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