We had the good fortune of connecting with Erica Smith and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Erica, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
I have had a passion for all things creative my entire life, so it kind of just came naturally to me.

I was one of those kids who was always drawing or playing an instrument or trying out for theater. By the end of my junior year of high school, I had decided that I would pursue a life in the visual arts and applied to art school.

I received my BFA in Painting from Montserrat College of Art in 2004, then earned a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate from Brandeis University in 2005.

I landed a full time creative job to in 2007 and have been doing it ever since. I push markers by day to pay the bills and work on my own studio work by night. I am genuinely grateful to be able to be creative all day long.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
My art is a lot like me: a little moody, somewhat analytical, always nostalgic and often quite colorful.

My main areas of focus area in black & white charcoal heads (portraits) and full color abstract collage. These are often seen as polar opposites, but they are actually closely related. They are both deeply rooted in the idea of relationships. Whether it’s analytical or more emotional, every relationship on the page has been considered and should serve it’s purpose to complete a whole.

My journey as an artist has been a spotty one for sure. I continued to make work after college for a number of years, but circumstances beyond my control left me with nothing to show for it, so I stopped for a while. I was seeing art like crazy, but years passed, I developed a drinking problem and no work was made at all.

The winter of 2018/19 was a particularly rough one for me. At some point that spring, I began drawing again for the first time in years, mostly as an outlet. A few months later, I quit drinking altogether and just came alive. All of my natural processes came flooding back to conjoin with the new ones I’d developed in the previous few months. I made it a goal for 2020 to rebuild my portfolio from the ground up, and while there is always more work to be made, I essentially met that goal for myself. I started applying to group shows & kept getting accepted, so I happily kept making work. I just had my first solo brewery show at Epic Brewing in RiNO in April and will be showing again at Zuni St. Brewing for most of May. I think the thing I’m most proud of is being able to fall in love and in place again with something that just feels so natural to me.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I really just started to explore Denver right as Covid hit, so I still consider myself a novice when it comes to recommending places to eat, drink or hang out. I have recently been exploring coffee shops close to home, so our mornings would have to start at either Stella’s, Unravel or Steam (one of my favorite outdoor seating areas south of the city)! My best friend is a foodie, so if she were to visit for a week, we would most definitely try a new place every night, along with a home cooked meal or two here & there. I would absolutely have to take her to Mac Nation in Indian Hills after an easy morning hike for the best mac & cheese around. I’d take her gallery hopping in the Arts District on Santa Fe, hitting up The Molecule Effect afterward for a glass of wine for her and an espresso for me. RiNO is the place to go for drinks, shopping, people watching and more art. We’re both from New England, so I would take her to Maine Shack for the freshest lobster roll in town, then hit a Rockies game in the evening. We never like to miss good live music, so we’d definitely keep an eye out for any interesting shows, too.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would definitely dedicate my successes to my Mom. She has supported and encouraged me every step of the way, from the very early days until today. She gave me the strength and courage I needed to embrace my creativity and see where it takes me.

Instagram: @ericakayesmith

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