"reading" and "writing" visual messages

alfred smith, mfa.

November 19, 2008


Art Professor Alfred Smith has been communicating through images for decades.  Professor of Drawing, Painting, 3D Modeling, and Animation, Professor Smith has chaired the Department of Art at Howard University and taught not only at Howard but at the Maryland Institute College of Art.  He earned his MFA in Painting and Sculpture at Boston University and an MA in Digital Art at the Maryland Institute College of Art.  He has exhibited his artwork at museums and galleries along the Eastern Coast, including the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Studio Museum of Harlem, Franz Bader Gallery, Florida A& M University, and Howard.  You can also see his artwork on the corner of W Street and Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue in Southeast DC, where his mural “The Dignity of Work” proudly stands, illustrating the experiences of known and unknown African American heroes.

However, as devoted as he is to the visual arts, Professor Smith is a disciple of interdisciplinarity.  In some ways, he is as much a musician as he is an artist.  He has taught visual music at the Peabody Conservatory of Music.   Moreover, he believes that “all manifestations come from and return to sound and, at their most elegant vibrations (motion) are expressed as music. “ He explains, “To express this idea, my intent is to further develop 3D Animation as a visual, calligraphic instrument through which I can play time and space with musicians.  Working as a leader of an audio-visual band, I seek to create and perform in architectural environments, extending my use of animated calligraphic figures, projecting them onto and through space warp-like domes, walls and corridors…the audience and band, moving in time with the music.” Consequently, he has contributed to exhibitions such as “Rhythm of Structure: The Mathematical Aesthetic,” “Seeing Jazz,” and “Visions and Spirits: The Cosmic Dance in African American Art.” In fact, he collaborated with Howard physicist James Lindesay to develop a course entitled “Time as the Rhythm of Experience.”   Because of their collaboration, they were invited to deliver a video presentation and lecture as a part of the David C. Driskell Center Colloquium Series at the University of Maryland in November 2003.

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