Paul Chaat Smith


What it Means to Write About Art

"With AIM, you can’t just pull out this or that aspect that you want—because all of its contradictions stem from its brilliance. I think with a lot of artists it’s the same."

Jarrett Earnest (his real name!) interviews thirty art critics, including Holland Cotter, Lucy Lippard, Fred Moten, Dave Hickey, Darby English, and PCS.

A Clear-Eyed Sense of the World

"My core beliefs are at odds: understanding how complex and flawed everything is, and wanting that not to be the case."

Candice Lin interviews PCS for the Los Angeles art journal X-TRA.

New Red Order Wants You

"New Red Order are equal parts theory-driven art collective and post-punk rock band aiming for the stars."

PCS interviews Adam Kahlil, Zack Kahlil and Jackson Polys for C magazine.

Our Fellow Americans

For American Indian essayist, activist, and cultural provocateur Paul Chaat Smith, there are two questions that have troubled his life: “Where are you from?” and “How much Indian are you?”

Mark Leviton interviews PCS for The Sun, August 2019.

The Most American Thing Ever Is In Fact American Indians

“History is harsh and it spares no one. Human beings throughout time and across the world demonstrate pretty much the same measure of brutality and grace.”

“A lecture presented at the Walker Art Center, August 2017, days after a total solar eclipse darkened the United States from coast to coast.

A Place Called Irony

"It is hard to say when we first met, because I cannot remember not knowing him, or feeling his presence. It’s sort of like asking when do you first remember meeting your older sister. "

Originally for an exhibition called Indian Humor, now chapter 15 of the second PCS book.

Afterword: End of the Line

"This book, as you’ve figured out, is a collection of essays. The oldest was written in 1992, at the end of the first Bush administration; the newest (this one) is being written in the final months of the third."

The last thing written for Everything You Know about Indians Is Wrong.

Luna Remembers

"James Luna is a visionary, a truth teller, a romantic, and a hanging judge. For these reasons, I wish he lived someplace other than up in the clouds on a mountain located on the extreme western edge of North America. "

For James Luna’s landmark 2005 Venice project. The title riffs on a famous Rolling Stone magazine cover story about John Lennon, called Lennon Remembers, which I believe was namechecking Khrushchev Remembers, a best-seller of the day. None of which has much to do with Luna.

No Fixed Destination

I cannot wait for it to be over. As I am writing, just five months and change before we can send this horrible, unnamed misadventure to the dustbin of history.

Essay for Art Quantum, the 2009 Eiteljorg Museum of Western and Native American Art exhibition, featuring work by Edward Poitras, Faye HeavyShield, Jeffrey Gibson, Wendy Red Star, and Jim Denomie.

Money Changes Everything

Brian Jungen turns objects inside out. By deconstructing them, he changes not only the things themselves, but the ways we think about what they used to be, and what they’ve become.

Title from the Brains song made famous by Cyndi Lauper, the essay written for the Brian Jungen: Strange Comfort exhibition. October 2009.

Monster Love

In the summer of 1994, news that Fritz Scholder was returning to Santa Fe with a show of new work, specifically a show of new work featuring Indians, produced a frisson of shock, delight, and nostalgia in the small city he had left two decades earlier.

Essay for Fritz Scholder: Indian/Not Indian. November 2008.


"Bob Dylan once described the decade he reluctantly owned this way: 'It was like a flying saucer that landed. Everybody heard about it, but only a few saw it.'"

by Robert Warrior and PCS, for Like a Hurricane: the Indian Movement from Alcatraz to Wounded Knee.

Presenting Evidence

"I decided to open my talk with an image of words, maybe not surprising since I make my living with words. I found these in a book about three years ago, and I made sure to have them taped to the walls of the various cubicles I’ve worked in ever since."

Talk that explains everything about the NMAI’s permanent history exhibition. March 2005.

State of Exception

"Like so many distinguished Washingtonians, Maggie Michael is from somewhere else. Wisconsin, actually. Arrived here as a college student at the end of the previous century and never left."

Maggie Michael is one of the most talented painters in Washington. This essay is for Michael’s Tattoos of Ships exhibition, January 2010.

Who's Afraid of Fritz Scholder?

"In Slouching Towards Bethlehem, Joan Didion confesses that much of what she writes in her notebooks are what most people would call lies."

On Julian Schnabel and Joan Didion. Presentation for NMAI and National Gallery of Art conference, December 2008.

Paul Chaat Smith