Smith has been known since the 1980s for her multidisciplinary practice relating to the human condition and the natural world. She uses a broad variety of materials to continuously expand and evolve a body of work that includes sculpture, printmaking, photography, drawing and textile.
Smith has been the subject of numerous one-person exhibitions worldwide including over 25 solo museum exhibitions. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and is the recipient of several awards including the 2012 National Medal of Arts, conferred by Hillary Clinton; the 2010 Nelson A. Rockefeller Award, Purchase College School of the Arts; the 2009 Edward MacDowell Medal, and the Skowhegan Medal for Sculpture in 2000, among others. In 2006, Smith was recognized by TIME Magazine as one of the “TIME 100: The People Who Shape Our World.” She is an adjunct professor at NYU and Columbia University.