Skip to content

Institute of Contemporary Art Miami


Sable Elyse Smith
Coloring Book 61, 2020

Screen printing ink and oil stick on paper
60 x 50 in.
Sable Elyse Smith Coloring Book 61, 2020 Silkscreen ink and oil stick on paper Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami Museum purchase with funds provided by the Witkoff Family, Helen Kent-Nicoll and Edward J. Nicoll

Sable Elyse Smith is an interdisciplinary artist, writer, and educator whose work explores issues of pervasive quotidian violence and investigates the private and public impacts of mass incarceration. Through video, sculpture, photography, and text, Smith seeks to bring awareness of the 2.3 million adults imprisoned in 2020, and the ways this bureaucratic system affects the country’s social fabric as well as the bodies and minds of an extended network of people bound to it.

Coloring Book 61 features the words “FORWARD RUNNING” scribbled across it. Coloring the surface with thick oil sticks outside the outlines of the original motif, the painting subverts the superficial positivity of the book and calls attention to what is left unsaid, emphasizing the insufficiency of language to investigate and process trauma.

Sable Elyse Smith (b. 1986, Los Angeles) currently lives and works in Richmond, Virginia, and New York. She has had solo exhibitions at the Haggerty Museum of Art, Milwaukee (2018); Atlanta Contemporary (2018); and Queens Museum (2017–18); and has been included in group shows at MoMA PS1, Long Island City, Queens (2019); Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia (2019); New Museum, New York (2019, 2017); Studio Museum in Harlem, New York (2017); El Museo del Barrio, New York (2017); and the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts, Brooklyn (2015). Smith’s work is also in the permanent collections of major institutions such as the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Studio Museum in Harlem; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.