Interview: Mimi Smith

Legacy Specialist Denise Schatz with CALL Artist Mimi Smith

Can you share what you and your Legacy Artist were able to accomplish through the CALL program?

DS: Mimi Smith is a prolific artist who is fluent in all mediums. Her database includes artist’s books, drawings, paintings, prints, sculpture, performance, audio and installation. Finding a way to connect the dots between works that involved various mediums was important to her archive. The database allowed us to organize pieces individually and as installations with various parts. By viewing the notes section of an installation record we can find all the corresponding pieces that make up the entirety of the installation and where they are located in the studio. In the next few months we are hoping to work on installation instructions to accompany these entries.

Can you give us a sense of how the CALL experience may have influenced you and your work as an artist?

DS: Mimi makes incredible drawings and each time we would open a drawer in the flatfile, another stack of treasures would emerge. She kindly shared technical tips and concepts that helped me with my own work. Mimi is diligent and meticulous about creating strong photos of her pieces. I learned how essential good photographic documentation is for an archive, especially as climate and storage can affect a work over time.

What has been the most rewarding aspect of this work?

DS: Getting to know an artist and their body of work has been a real privilege. Being in a position to hear the thoughts behind certain pieces and the way in which different works evolved has been very exciting for me. Mimi is inspiring, smart and funny. I love talking with her about the art world and life in general.

What has been most difficult?

DS: While we did a tremendous amount of work, there are always places where we could expand or add details. Luckily the database allows for flexibility in altering or adding to various records.

What recommendations might you make to a Legacy Specialists in training on how to prepare for the overall CALL experience?

DS: Take time to get to know the person you are working with and start with reasonable goals. Embrace the fluidity of the project because sometimes there are stops and starts, be it technical or personal. Maintain a sense of humor! Mimi and I laugh a lot.


Mimi Smith’s profile on
Video: Mimi Smith’s CALL / VoCA Talk