UNLV Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art

Malevolent Waters (Abyss)

Lance L. Smith
"Malevolent Waters (Abyss)", 2018
Oil on canvas
Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art Collection
Gift of the artist

Malevolent Waters is part of Lance Smith’s Moral Monsters series, a set of nine paintings depicting the mouths of snakes, dogs, and sharks with their teeth bared. Smith takes the title of the series from a statement made during a 1963 television interview by the African-American writer and activist James Baldwin. Baldwin says he is “terrified by the moral apathy” of white people who “really don’t think I’m human.” He continues: “I base this on their conduct, not on what they say, and this means that they have become, in themselves, moral monsters.” Smith moves this idea of violent conduct into the figures of symbolic animals, placing each viewer, no matter who they are, in an immediate relationship with an irrational, hostile force. (DKS)

  • Framed: 20 x 20 in
  • Created: 2018
  • Inventory Number: 2019.11.001
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