In an artistic career spanning over 4 decades, Arvie Smith transforms the history of oppressed and stereotyped segments of the American experience into lyrical two-dimensional master works. His paintings use common psychological images to reveal deep sympathy for the dispossessed and marginalized members of society in an unrelenting search for beauty, meaning, and equality. Smith’s work reflects powerful injustices and the will to resist and survive. His memories of growing up in the South add to his awareness of the legacy that the slavery of African American’s has left with all Americans today. His intention is to solidify the memory of atrocities and oppression so they will never be forgotten nor duplicated.
Smith (b.1938, Houston, TX) lives and works in Portland, OR. Smith holds an MFA from the Hoffberger School of Painting, Maryland Institute College of Art and a BFA from Pacific Northwest College of Art. Smith studied at Il Bisonte and SACI in Florence in 1983. He has had recent solo exhibitions at the Hallie Ford Museum of Art, Salem, OR (2022); moniquemeloche, Chicago, IL (2022); Jordan Schnitzer Museum, Portland, OR (2022); and Disjecta Contemporary Art Center, Portland, OR (2019). His work has been included in group exhibitions at the Venice Biennale, IT (2022); Galerie Myrtis (2019); UTA Art Space, Beverly Hills, CA; Portland Art Museum, Portland, OR (2017); and Upfor Gallery, Portland, OR (2020).
Smith’s work is held in the permanent collections of the Portland Art Museum, Portland, OR; Delaware Museum of Art, Wilmington, DE; Reginald F. Lewis Museum, Baltimore, MD; Hallie Ford Museum of Art, Salem, OR; Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at the University of Oregon, Eugene, OR; and Petrucci Family Foundation Collection of African American Art, Asbury, NJ and the Pierce and Hill Harper Arts Foundation, Detroit, MI.