Skylar Smith’s Thing: Art


Photography by MelIssa  Donald

Photography by MelIssa Donald

Hers was the last installation in the Child/art and Parenting exhibition at Spalding University’s huff gallery. I was mesmerized!  I stood in front of the large, whimsical, colorful canvas watching a video of the making of this work of art being projected directly onto the piece itself. genius! Especially when you have a two-year-old precious little girl wearing only her diaper covered in paint playing with her mommy. I was transfixed watching the two of them.

What is the best thing about doing art with your daughter, Forest?

Having kids puts you in that moment. They are so present, right? If I can get into that place and get into the zone with her…

What is that place?

Sometimes when I’m making art, I forget to eat. I forget about time. I get into that place and once you experience that, you want to go back.

Describe it.

Concentration, freedom, in the present moment. you forget about all the worries — and forget about yourself, which is a relief.

I enjoyed meeting your mom. I laughed when I asked how you got

I think art teaches you to be spontaneous; to be in the moment. Let the process reveal things to you. 

 Is it difficult to balance it all? 

Balancing time with my family, with my work as an artist, and my career as an educator is a constant issue. When things get stressful, I try to be gentle with myself. I take a hot bath, do a yoga class, or just sit and breath.

What has your art taught you about yourself?

You don’t know where the painting is going to go. It’s about trust and curiosity; taking time and not getting frustrated. Trusting in the process of life. you kind of have expectations of how you want your life to play out, and that’s going to drive you crazy because it just doesn’t work that way. I think art teaches you to be spontaneous; to be in the moment. let the process reveal things to you. Don’t focus on the result. you don’t know what the end is when you’re in the middle of it.

Do you have to be brave to be an artist?

Definitely. Because, if you want to be a doctor, lawyer, or accountant, it’s a clearer line to that job. There’s more security in that job. I do have a job that pays the bills — one that I really love.

What does the interested in art and your mom said, “She was a troubled child.” What’s your version?

I had a ton of energy and art was one thing that focused that energy, and my mom realized once she put that pencil in my hand I wouldn’t be bouncing off the walls.

So, your energy was a good thing?

My creativity was encouraged at an early age by my parents and special art teachers — thank you!  This gave me confidence to pursue fine art in undergraduate and graduate school. I began teaching art right out of undergraduate school and fell in love with sharing art with other people.

What has changed now that you’re a mom?

Becoming a parent has totally rocked my world and affected my artwork.  lately, my daughter and i have been making art together, and this new experience has opened up new media and methods for my work.

What are your built-in skills for being a mom?

I’ve always loved kids. the fun, the play, and the creativity…all kids love art. That play and creativity turns into being a mom and being flexible.               

What are the challenges?

Its balance, surrendering. i don’t have as much time in my studio. It’s a challenge to make time for myself and not feel guilty, but I know when I do I’m so much happier, and that’s better for her.

You are artist and assistant professor and programming director at the Kentucky School of Art at Spalding University. How does being an artist and a teacher work together?

I find that my work as an artist hugely influences how and what i teach, which is why it is so important for teachers to keep their own embers burning. in order for me to teach, I have to be an artist. It really feeds the teaching to get back into the studio.

painting behind you say about you?

I don’t know. I don’t know if I can answer that. What do you think?

Very colorful! Very playful, free, so free… I want you to inspire me to be that free and have that much fun. What advice do you have for others?

Follow your bliss. Just go for it. Be brave. Be gentle. Don’t forget to breathe.

Article Courtesy of Today’s Woman

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