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Black Skin, White Masks, from Human_3.0 Reading List

A work made of graphite and watercolor on wove graph paper.

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  • A work made of graphite and watercolor on wove graph paper.




Cauleen Smith
American, born 1967

About this artwork

Over the course of eighteen months in 2015 and 2016, Chicago-based artist Cauleen Smith produced a series of 57 drawings, each representing a specific book that she has read. Together, these drawings propose a reading list, a new canon of humanistic literacy so urgently needed here and now.

The personal impact of reading is conveyed through Smith’s choice of media; the time and effort to create drawings by hand reflects the special power of holding and reading a physical book. As her primary discipline is film, the decision to make a series of drawings is especially significant. In these objects Smith reveals intellectual touchstones essential to her worldview, but she also provokes us to consider which of these books is critical to our collective experience: Have you read these books? What do they mean to us now? What would you add to this list?


Currently Off View


Prints and Drawings


Cauleen Smith


Black Skin, White Masks, from Human_3.0 Reading List


United States (Artist's nationality:)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.



Graphite and watercolor on wove graph paper


30 × 21.5 cm (11 13/16 × 8 1/2 in.)

Credit Line

Promised gift of Helen and Sam Zell

Reference Number

Obj: 238015

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email . Information about image downloads and licensing is available here.


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