One of my favorite works in the Contemporary Jewish Museum/SFMOMA exhibit, “Beyond Belief: 100 Years of the Spiritual in Modern Art” was Kiki Smith’s Lilith. It sticks out, literally and figuratively, because of its unconventional display. Lilith is part wall piece, part free standing sculpture…the only catch is she stands on a wall defying gravity. There is a sense of power, strength and sturdiness to the piece because of Lilith’s angular, crouched pose.
When I circled back around to take one last look at Lilith before leaving, I noticed a new feature of the sculpture. Since she is perched on a wall at eye-level, the viewer can walk around to see her entire body. This second look made me realize Lilith was looking back. Her face is inlaid with very life-like looking glass eyes. They’re a little unnerving, a little off-putting. Lilith still commands my attention, just now in a mix of admiration and repulsion all in one. All that with just her eyes…now that’s power.