Armisey Smith

2021 Recipient of the Lynn and John Kearney Fellowship for Equity

Armisey Smith is a native of Brooklyn, New York, living in Newark, NJ. Armisey earned a BFA in Illustration from Parsons School of Design and an MPS in Arts and Cultural Management from Pratt Institute. Armisey is an arts administrator, educator, illustrator, and curator. Her amalgamation has afforded various opportunities to collaborate with essential stakeholders and community-based organizations in New York and New Jersey, serving primarily marginalized communities. Presently, she is the director of arts education at Studio Montclair, working with a cohort of visual art instructors who teach adults with disabilities.

Her artistic practicum is consistently expanding into areas that delve into aspects of systemic oppression. Her prominent subjects illuminate the plight of black women and other women of color from past to present. She believes the production and exhibition of her works are an inherent part of her moral obligation to herself and the public. Selections of her works were exhibited in galleries and museums throughout the tri-state area. She has been the lead artist on several public art mural projects in New Jersey, including Treat Place Four Corners Project, Lincoln Park, Benjamin Franklin School, and Sussex Avenue School.

Armisey Smith’s artwork takes a critical view of social, political, and cultural issues of African-American women and other women of color. She frequently references her personal experiences to express the weight of America’s social ills. She explores these themes extensively via illustration and fine art. The body of work traverses the causal relationships between the Covid pandemic and systemic racism; her work employs familiar and visceral visual cues to underscore these irrevocable themes. Her mandate is to encourage an emotional and intellectual response to the pieces and illuminate black women’s pain, power, and resilience. She uses various materials and processes in each of her projects subsets or outgrowths; her methodologies are congruous and purposeful. The variety of materials used between the different projects are associated with serial disquietudes through the subject matter. The subject matter of each agglomeration of work inspires the material selection and the manifestation of the work. Each project often consists of multiple pieces in different media, grouped around specific themes, meanings, and anticipated outcomes to elicit various responses. Her research of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, reconstruction, jim-crow, the civil rights movement, and Black Lives Matter catalyzes areas of interest that voice the next body of work.

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