About the Artist
Born near Jonestown, Mississippi, Aj Smith began his formal training in the visual arts at the Kansas City Art Institute in Kansas City, Missouri. He studied painting and printmaking with Professors Wilbur Niewald and William ‘Bill’ McKim respectively. Wilbur Niewald and Bill McKim, as students themselves at the Kansas City Art Institute quite some years previously, studied with Professor Thomas Hart Benton.
Following the completion of a Bachelor of Fine Arts, Aj Smith moved to New York City and received a Master of Fine Arts in painting and printmaking at Queens College, City University of New York (CUNY). Within a few weeks following graduate school, Aj met Robert Blackburn, founding Director of the Printmaking Workshop, Inc. in New York City. Bob Blackburn invited Aj to train as his Master Printmaking apprentice under a grant from the Jerome Foundation. It was through Bob Blackburn and the Printmaking Workshop’s community of established professionals and also other young artists at the ‘Workshop’ that a lifelong journey in printmaking was consummated.
About the Artist’s Work
Whether Printmaking, Drawing, Painting, etc., as an artist, it is all about the message – finding the most effective visual language to communicate thoughts and feelings where words are inadequate. The art work most often addresses historical, cultural, and an individual’s personal concerns that are often part of our collective humanity.
Fellowships, Awards, & Collections
A selection of fellowship listings includes the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture (1973); Studio Museum in Harlem, Artist In Residence (1978); Arkansas Museum of Fine Art / formerly Arkansas Arts Center, Artist In Residence (1982); Tamarind Institute of Lithography Research Fellowship (1989); and Brandywine Center of the Visual Arts in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (1995). Additional honors include Czech Republic Ministry of Culture International Printmaking Symposium Invited Artist (2008), Mid-America Arts Alliance / National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, and Arkansas Arts Council Fellowship in Drawing and Printmaking.
Aj Smith’s prints are represented in several public collections, to include the United States Library of Congress, China, Czech Republic, Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts, Philadelphia Museum of Art in Pennsylvania; Lauren Rogers Museum of Art in Laurel, Mississippi; Columbia Museum in South Carolina, and numerous private and corporate collections.