The term “urban” is suspiciously elastic. Once a pat descriptor for the cityscape and its attendant physical qualities, it morphed into a shorthand for both the ills and ecstasies of Modern city living. And finally, has been co-opted to sell everything from spoons to condos to abstract notions of authenticity.


Still, the crush of bricks and bodies retains a certain romance, no less authentic for being slightly cheesy. Los Angeles is a notoriously difficult city to “discover”, yet among our freeways and stucco blocks, our water-hogging orchards and gum-spotted sidewalks, we hunt for gems: the best taco on the west side, the hotel pool with lax visitor rules, a like-minded individual who quickens the pulse.

Paige Smith‘s urban geodes enact the thrill of discovering a city—shrinking it down, making it manageable, personal, delightful. Crafted from paper and spray paint, Smith folds and composes the humble materials into ephemeral jewels. They do not impose themselves onto existing architecture, but tuck themselves into its neglected spaces: filling gaping holes in a sidewalk, pushing through cracked building façades alongside the wild weeds, poetically occupying the empty picture plane formed by an absent brick or gutted telephone booth. Even the smallest of her interventions (perhaps especially the small ones) create conditions for oddly intimate encounters in public spaces.

Churchill once said that we shape our buildings; but thereafter they shape us. SmashBox is thrilled to present an exhibition of new work by Paige Smith on August 6th. Her commissioned work provides an outlet for the geodes to come inside and stretch out, shaping an environment while still allowing themselves to be shaped by it. Be it a window display or a slab of canvas, they are simply spaces presented to her to fill, which she does, patiently, one paper crystal at a time.

follow Paige Smith on Instagram: @acommonname