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Western States Pill Box

1995 Christina Y. Smith Born: Berkeley, California 1951 fabricated, soldered, and engraved sterling silver 7 5/8 x 2 5/8 x 3/4 in. (19.4 x 6.7 x 1.9 cm) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of Kenneth R. Trapp in honor of Christine L. Droll 1996.49 Not currently on view


Luce Center Quote

“I really love luxury objects . . . that’s another reason for the silver . . . The piece has to be actually precious . . . it couldn’t be thin or plate.” Smith, quoted in Wagle, “Chris Smith, The Luxury of Stolen Images,” Metalsmith, Spring 1999

Luce Center Label

Christina Smith fashions all of her pieces from thick gauge silver to create a sense of permanence and value. She incorporates gesturing silhouettes that invite the viewer into an imaginary conversation or action, and in Western States Pill Box the male figure points toward the circular lid, as if encouraging us to place, or to see, something inside. Most pill boxes have seven compartments (one for each day of the week), but Smith created eight drawers in order to include eight states, which follow a geographic circle around Utah. She raised the status of an everyday personal item by constructing it from precious metal and engraving the state names in elegant calligraphy. These elements suggest that her box is intended to hold something more valuable, perhaps tiny keepsakes of a long journey.

Keywords

Figure - full length

decorative arts

Crafts - Metal

metal - silver

About Christina Y. Smith

Born: Berkeley, California 1951