Arvie Smith was born in Houston TX, in 1938. He lived in rural Texas until age 10 when his family moved to South Central Los Angeles. In his late twenties, he settled in Portland, Oregon. He earned his BFA from Pacific Northwest College of Art with a concentration in painting and printmaking in 1986. He earned his MFA from the Hoffberger School of Painting, Maryland Institute College of Art, where he was teaching assistant to Grace Hartigan. Smith’s work has been shown in more than 25 solo exhibitions and countless group shows including international venues. His paintings are collected and held in excess of 20 museums, universities, and public and private collections. Smith taught at Maryland Institute College of Art, University of Oregon, and Oregon College of Art and Crafts. He has traveled and studied extensively in West Africa and Europe. In 2017, Smith was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from PNCA, where he taught for 21 years and in 2015 became Professor Emeritus of Painting. Also in 2017, he was awarded Oregon’s Governor's Arts Award for Lifetime Achievement. In 2019-20, a two-show retrospective and catalogue of his work and career were funded by The Family Ford Foundation.
Painters & Sculptors Grant, 2020
My paintings are a dialogue with American history through the very present-day and reflect the unending injustices committed toward African Americans. Inequity and marginalization are bestowed on me and my people with callous impunity. Without our stories, without our ability to render ourselves through our own eyes, the culture denies essential input from Black voices and the American story lacks depth, nuance.”