The month of June is a time to celebrate the LGBTQ community and reflect on the advances of queer people to strengthen civil liberties around the world, even in a moment of great political uncertainty. It’s also a good opportunity to spotlight the richness and diversity of culture we have within the community. Hyperallergic is commemorating Pride Month by featuring one contemporary queer artist per day on the website and letting them speak for themselves. Click here to participate.

Sable Elyse Smith (photo by Isabel Asha Penzlien, image courtesy the artist)

Sable Elyse Smith

Age: 32

Location: Harlem

Artistic Medium: Interdisciplinary

Who are you and what do you do?

I’m an artist, a writer, an exquisite dancer, a Leo, a filmmaker, a culinary aficionado, and a soon-to-be bar owner.

What are the top three greatest influences on your work?

Music, poetry (Yusef Komunyakaa, etc.), and film (Pedro Almodovar, Alain Resnais, John Frankenheimer, etc.).

Describe your coffee order.

Almond milk cappuccino.

What is your greatest accomplishment?

Being able to support my friends and family in myriad ways.

What constitutes a perfect day?

Starting at Lenox Coffee, sitting outside with my cappuccino, writing and reading from this Etheridge Knight collection, a new discovery an important person gifted me, which is already having profound impacts on my work, taking a long ass walk, and talking shit/shooting the shit with Troy. Anything extra is a bonus.

What was your favorite exhibition from last year?

Jibade-Khalil Huffman at the Kitchen

What would your superpower be if you had one?

A mean falsetto!

Tell us a lie about yourself.

I got the meanest falsetto!

What is one question you wish somebody would ask about your work?

Can we talk about the influences of blues, sampling, and the overdub in your work?

What is the greatest threat to humanity?

Fear of the eroticism, etc., etc.

What did you make when you first started making art?

I made my mom dinner.

Do you prefer spilling the tea or throwing shade?

Probably a little shady with the tea, but only for dramatic effect.

What is your all-time favorite work of art?

Hiroshima mon amour.

What are your plans for pride month?

Dancing, dancing, dancing, dancing.

Back in my day…

I’ve lived 29 different lives and never would have thought I would be here.

Name one guilty pleasure.


Greatest queer icon of the internet: Babadook, Momo, or a pervading sense of existential angst?

A pervading sense of existential angst.

Is there enough support for queer artists where you live?


How do you stay cool during the summer?

Yatenga’s happy hour.

What is your favorite type of milk?

Fuck milk! It’s disgusting!

“Queer Artists in Their Own Words” is an ongoing feature happening every day in the month of June. For prior posts in the series, please click here.

Zachary Small was a writer at Hyperallergic.