Born depicts a small doe giving birth to a full-grown woman. Presented in an idealized, classical style, this particular duo evokes Diana, the ancient Roman goddess of nature and the hunt. Diana was believed to have the power to commune with animals, and deer were especially sacred to her. Deer also feature prominently in the spiritual beliefs of a number of Native American cultures, reflecting the importance of our relationship to the natural world. This idea is also very important to Kiki Smith, and she has said, “The fate of humankind is intimately interconnected with the health of the environment.” If we destroy the environment, symbolized in this work by the deer, we, too, will cease to exist.
Label from Menagerie: Animals on View, March 11–June 4, 2017