Alexis Smith United States, b. 1949

I collect everywhere I go, and I like to work with everyday life forms as opposed to high-art forms...Also, there is often an emotional poignancy to my work. It's uncynical. It's very of the world.

-Alexis Smith


Alexis Smith Playing Cards Made in USA is an uncut sheet of playing cards, pulled from Smith's use of found materials and literary aphorisms. Each card pairs a quote from Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass with old-timey symbols of Americana creating a work that is at once playful, provocative and patriotic. Smith herself is jauntily represented as The Joker-Uncle Sam, like a Master of Ceremonies welcoming us to the show. Individually the cards can be read as profound, wry or cryptic snippets; collectively they create a work of art that ponders the contradictions of life in the United States of America.


Originally Alexis Smith Playing Cards Made in USA was commissioned as a deck of cards for the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles in 2007 for their historic exhibition Wack! Art and the Feminist Revolution. Smith archived the full proof, with the idea that this work would be an interesting future project. Ten years later, The Lapis Press is honored to produce this new edition, capturing the spirit and quality of the original.


Alexis Smith explores gender, culture, and materialism within traditional Western myths, creating her own anthropological language with found imagery and literary quotes. Through folksy clip art and Whitman's visionary poem, Alexis Smith Playing Cards Made in USA speaks of America as a state of mind, a place of expansion and brave individuality. The American Dream, with all of its expectations and disappointments, as well as fate, destiny, love and death are laid out as a playful meditation on being humane and human. The uncut sheet implies these pursuits are open to all as opposed to the luck of the draw.