Piece description from the artist
Nathan Leopold was born on November 19, 1904 in Chicago, Illinois, to a wealthy immigrant Jewish family from Germany. A child prodigy who spoke his first words at the age of four months, he reportedly scored an intelligence quotient of 210, though test results from that era are not directly comparable to scores on modern IQ tests. At the time of the murder he had already completed an undergraduate degree at the University of Chicago with Phi Beta Kappa honors, and planned to begin studies at Harvard Law School after a family trip to Europe. He reportedly had studied 15 languages and spoke at least five fluently, and had achieved a measure of national recognition as an ornithologist. He and several other ornithologists identified Kirtland's Warbler, an endangered songbird that had not been observed in the Chicago area in over half a century.
Smithenry explores the notion that while we engage in a search for significance online, most of us have to live with the stark fact that neither fame nor notoriety will ever find us. His work asks us to consider how our technology consumes and distracts us from our off-line pursuits that ultimately make us the "somebodies" we are.
Smithenry’s traveling exhibition, Coming Out Online, an installation of paintings that document the online testimonials of queer teens, garnered an article in the Chicago Tribune, was discussed on Chicago Public Radio’s news magazine 848 and continues to tour in various academic venues. His work has been reproduced in Harper's Magazine and The Common Review. He was a featured artist during Chicago Artist’s Month in 2009 and received an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship Grant Recipient in 2005
Having grown up on a dairy farm in South-Central Illinois, Smithenry now resides in Highland Park, Illinois, with his husband and their two children.