For the past 15 years, Miami Beach has played host to Art Basel, making the first week of December synonymous with culture, parties and international art. Apart from the main spectacle at the Convention Center, several satellite shows cater to different niches and offer exposure for local talent.
Creating art wasn’t part of Carmen Smith’s life plan.
In school she was part of the pre-veterinary program and then earned a degree in Russian studies. Smith was going to be a linguistics professor.
“I really didn’t know what I wanted to do, and I didn’t know there were careers in art, and that they could be fruitful,” she says.
As a child, Smith spent time with her mom, an art teacher, sketching naturescapes. But it wasn’t until college that art became a permanent part of Smith’s life.
While studying abroad in Saint Petersburg, Russia, Smith visited the Hermitage Museum often to get away from the cold and grab a coffee. Immediately upon returning to the States, she signed up for art classes, and in 2002, she enrolled at the Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts where she acquired a bachelor’s degree in fine arts.
Then it took 10 years for the now 40-year-old to finally become a full-time artist.
“The best part of being an artist is creating something that didn’t exist in the universe,” she says. “I feel like I’m doing something meaningful.”
Smith’s Hollywood studio is filled with paintings she describes as American modernism and tropical minimalism. But one thing that hangs on her wall that isn’t a painting is a Post-it note with a quote: “Do the work.”
“Sometimes as an artist you don’t know all the answers,” she says. “It reminds me to just pick up the paint brush, to just do it. It’s as simple as that.”
Last year she showcased her work at Spectrum Miami, one of Miami Art Week’s satellite shows. This year, she will be showing at Superfine!, a boutique contemporary art fair in Wynwood. Look out for her at booth No. 5.
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