A Portland, Maine-based artist, Brian Smith’s practice draws on queer theory to complicate traditionally held views of nature as separate from human society. During his fellowship, Smith will focus on the development of a body of work that explores the relationship between humanity and the rising oceans through the perspective of queer ecology.
As an interdisciplinary maker, Smith will utilize his fellowship to further his material explorations with sculptural beadwork–experimenting with techniques that visually mimic the effect of underwater light casted onto an aqueous surface. Additionally, Smith plans to explore the intersection of sculpture and painting as a means to hybridize the different modes of making. These new works will feed into a larger thematic series that imagines a speculative, dystopian future that takes place under the rising oceans. In the context of already existing and impending environmental challenges, his fellowship period will advance Smith’s inquiries into the role of adaptation, transformation, and interconnectedness in our shared future. While in residence, Smith will mentor a Colby student interested in visual arts and environmental studies through a partnership sponsored by the college’s Buck Lab for Climate and Environment. The campus’s student and scholarly community will also have opportunities to engage with Smith in the studio and classroom. During his time on campus, Smith will research and learn from artists with conceptual and material underpinnings related to his own practice represented in the Colby Museum’s collection, including holdings by Frank Moore, Thaddeus Mosley, Hew Locke, Daphne Cummings, and Ashley Bryan.
Smith holds a master of fine arts in studio arts from Maine College of Art & Design, where he has also served as an adjunct professor, and a bachelor of fine arts in sculpture from Massachusetts College of Art and Design. Smith’s work has been showcased in numerous exhibitions throughout Maine, Antwerp, Texas, Massachusetts, and New York. His contributions to the field have been featured in various publications, including a recent exhibition review of “That Queer Fish” in Boston Art Review, as well as other writings in The Portland Press Herald, Maine Magazine, The Chart, Floorr, Divide, and Working Artists Magazine.
Prior to his fellowship with the Lunder Institute for American Art, Smith completed artist residencies at Hewnoaks Artist Colony, where he currently serves as a Residency Manager, and at Monson Arts Residency. Notably, Smith is the recipient of the American Rescue Plan Maine Project Grant via SPACE Gallery and the Maine Arts Commission Springboard Grant and Project Grant.