Cauleen Smith: The Wanda Coleman Songbook

January 19 – March 16, 2024


Two-color vinyl 12-inch EP
32:17 minutes
Limited-edition pressing of 500

Producer: Cauleen Smith
Executive Producer: Ebony L. Haynes
Production Supervisor: Karryl Eugene
Graphic Design: Sebastian Pierre
Mixed and Mastered by: Chris Connors at Concrete Sound, Brooklyn, NY
Distributed by: 52 Walker

Full Press Release


Watch Cauleen Smith in conversation with Zoë Hopkins | The Brooklyn Rail

52 Walker is pleased to announce its tenth exhibition, The Wanda Coleman Songbook, which will feature the work of Los Angeles–based artist Cauleen Smith. 

The Wanda Coleman Songbook is an immersive video installation that enlists scent, sight, and sound to explore the multidimensional depth of poems by Wanda Coleman (1946– 2013). Coleman was widely considered the unofficial poet laureate of Los Angeles, and her work guided Smith‘s reacquaintance with the city after a sixteen-year absence. At the heart of The Wanda Coleman Songbook listening room, visitors are invited to drop a needle on the eponymously titled, limited-edition two-color vinyl 12-inch EP with commissioned contributions by Kelsey Lu, Shala Miller, moor mother and Aquiles Navarro, Meshell Ndegeocello, Jeff Parker and Ruby Parker, Alice Smith, and Jamila Woods and Standing on the Corner. 

Also called the “LA Blueswoman,” Coleman cultivated her fearless voice through the city‘s myriad cultural and political landscapes, as well as through initiatives like the Studio Watts Workshop and her experiences writing for television, editing, teaching, and performing. Invigorated by Coleman‘s intimacies with and revelations in the city, Smith familiarized herself deeply with the poet‘s oeuvre after returning to Los Angeles in 2017 and considered them alongside her own histories and feelings of rediscovery there. At 52 Walker, Smith not only creates a cinematic environment translating Coleman‘s lyrical and adventurous verse but also a contemporary soundscape that captures the longing, tenderness, fury, and grief of the writer‘s poetry and prose, which so often revealed the unruly and untamed aspects of the major West Coast metropolis. 

Cauleen Smith: The Wanda Coleman Songbook is curated by Ebony L. Haynes and presented by 52 Walker. The artist extends a special thanks to Wanda Coleman‘s brother George Evans.