Skip Smith is an artist nationally known for his depictions of scenes of the Black Experience, the Civil Rights Movement, and the Disability rights Movement. He is currently working for the Southeast Kansas Independent Living Resource Center in Parsons, Kansas.
Skip was born, raised, and educated in a little railroad town called Parsons, Kansas. This is the same town in which jazz legend Buck Clayton was born. Several miles from Parsons is a town named Fort Scott, Kansas, where photographer Gordon Parks was born. Fort Scott was also an outpost for the Buffalo soldiers. Sixty miles from Parsons is Joplin, Missouri where the poet Langston Hughes was born. All were influential in Skip’s life.
In Skip’s own words... “My first art experience as a child was drawing on my mother’s walls in my bedroom, when I should have been taking a nap, and on my older brother’s and sister’s homework. Anything that didn’t move fast enough became a piece of artwork. I attended Fredrick Douglas School, which went from grade school to high school. This situation was unique because of the segregation of the school. I began to earn money with my artwork, by drawing cartoons on the other student’s t-shirts. I became very much aware of the Civil Rights Movement when my third grade class became one of the first elementary classes to test the ruling of Linda Brown vs. The Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas. That prompted the closing of Douglas School.”
“After graduating from high school, I joined the Navy to see the world; they showed me Vietnam. However, I did manage to see more of the Big Blue Marble. After my discharge from the military, I attended college on the GI bill, and earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts and Master of Science degrees. I worked several years as a Graphic Artist, but it was too restricted, so I decided to pursue fine arts. I spent several years travelling from city to city, and eventually settled in Atlanta, Georgia. I loved Atlanta because of its rich history, and financial boom in the Afro-Centric lithographs. How lucky can you get?”
“After many years in Atlanta, like Dorothy it was time to click my heels, and go back home to Kansas, where I will expire someday. There is no place like home”
“I emerged as a professional artist in the 1980”s. My versatile and exuberant graphite depictions of the African- American genre as well as my paintings captured the imagination of many across the nation.”
“I have done portraits of Governor Kathleen Sebelius, Senator Tom Harkin, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, actor Chris Tucker, and TLC singer Chili.”
“Up until recent years I did all of my subjects in super realism techniques, but now I’m, concentrating on semi abstract and expressionism. It tends to free my imagination and allows me to be colourful as Van Gogh or Jacob Lawrence. I intend to master color, harmony, and design.”