Accomplished Little Rock artists Aj Smith and Marjorie Williams-Smith will be featured in a series of events at University of the Ozarks throughout the month of October.
The Smith’s art exhibit, “The Artists’ Perspectives,” will be on display from Oct. 5-28 in the Stephens Gallery as part of the university’s Artist of the Month Series. There will be a reception to meet the artists from 7-8 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 12, in the gallery, which is located in the Walton Fine Arts Center.
In addition, Aj Smith will present a slideshow and talk titled, “Faces of the Delta/Places of the Delta,” an on-going project to record culture vignettes and visual motifs of the Arkansas and Mississippi Delta region. The talk will begin at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 13, in the Rogers Conference Center and is a part of the university’s 2015-16 Walton Arts & Ideas Series.
All of the events and exhibits are free and open to the public.
The Smiths are both professors of art at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and their artwork has been featured in exhibits and galleries throughout the United States. They use silverpoint, large-scale graphite pencil, and watercolor drawings in their artwork.
Aj Smith earned his bachelor’s degree from the Kansas City Art Institute and his master’s degree of fine arts from Queens College in New York. He has taught for more than 40 years.
Much of his work captures particular individuals considered to be “ordinary folk who represent the salt of the earth.” Subjects of his drawings live in relatively remote rural locations in the Delta.
“Through drawings and fine art prints I am able to explore creative processes with the freedom to experiment,” Aj Smith said. “Graphite pencil, silverpoint and fine art printmaking processes provide an effective means to communicate subtle emotional feelings where words are often inadequate. In my drawings and prints, I hope to reveal that facet of one’s personality often held secure behind the facade we see during casual encounters. It is difficult to show the personal side, because in doing so we provide opportunities for others to inflict intended and unintended injury. In my portraits I hope to present the spirit of one’s soul. This, I feel, is most effective in the drawings of children and older adults. The accepting faces of the young child and the aged often remind us of our own innocence and humanity.”
A native of Washington, D.C., Williams-Smith earned a bachelor’s degree from Howard University and an MFA from Pratt Institute in New York. After completing her academic training, she worked for several years in New York City as a graphic artist.
Much of Williams-Smith’s artwork focuses on flowers in their dry state.
“I have focused my attention primarily on flowers for as long as I have used silverpoint,” Williams-Smith said. “Most often my subject is dried, which lends itself to extended study. The flower is fragile in its dried state, but I am able to clearly see this form as if frozen in time. It also becomes a metaphor for spiritual reflection.”