moniquemeloche is pleased to present Arvie Smith: Call and Response. Spanning both galleries, the exhibition features a series of new and legacy paintings by the Portland, OR-based artist Arvie Smith and is the artist’s first solo exhibition at the gallery.
Smith’s practice contends with the complex history of social and racial injustices in America. Born in Houston and raised in Roganville, TX and Los Angeles, Smith conveys the collective horrors, humiliations, and discriminations that Black people have suffered in the United States over the past 450 years. Fueled by a drive to be an artist at an early age, Smith started copying paintings of Michelangelo when his family moved to Los Angeles. He had a solo show at a bank at age 15 and was the school artist for its sporting events. Excited to continue his early painting career, Smith applied to an art institute but was abruptly dissuaded by a receptionist who said, “we don’t need your kind here.” He would go on to earn his BFA from Pacific Northwest College of Art with a concentration in painting and printmaking in 1986, twenty-some years later. It was at PNCA where Smith met painter Robert Colescott–the first Black artist to represent the U.S. at the Venice Biennale–who influenced Smith’s approach to racial taboos and stereotypes through satire. Smith continued to earn his MFA from the Hoffberger School of Painting at Maryland Institute College of Art where he was a teaching assistant to abstract expressionist Grace Hartigan, who challenged him to raise his ambitions and reach for his canvases. He later returned to PNCA where he taught painting for over 20 years. In 2017, Smith received the recognition of professor emeritus and an honorary PhD from PNCA.