Krista Louise Smith, ‘Nursing Pillows.’ Images courtesy Elliot Purse
When numbness in her right arm forced Krista Louise Smith to leave her job as a painter’s assistant, she was devastated. The nine-hour workdays that were keeping her afloat in New York City were also destroying the reason she’d moved there: her own art.
Smith usually paints stoic, photorealistic portraits of nude women, frozen in a kind of pure, unadulterated state. The paintings carry the immediacy and honesty of looking in the mirror. After leaving her job, Smith couldn’t lift her arm, let alone paint with that kind of nuance. Instead, she had to internalize the possibility of never painting again. The thought knocked her sideways and confined her to her apartment. There, she instinctively sought comfort in alternative creations: instinctive, crude drawings with her healthy left hand and comforting, plush pillows shaped