Kathi Smith

The Duck Islands

The Duck Islands

Kathi Smith’s lush, expressionistic paintings are known for their loose, confident brush strokes, and their complex and sophisticated interplay of textures, gestural marks, and rich, abundant color. As art writer Marcia Santore notes: “Her surfaces are worked and reworked, brushed, rubbed, dabbed, scuffed and pressed, built up in layers, scraped down again, scratched through, into a surface defined by texture and traveling marks, touched by brilliant color.” Thematically, location holds a place of primacy. Smith is most inspired by scenes in which she finds herself lost in the act of looking: “Complicated spaces with an abundance of information intrigue me, and I consider it my task as an artist to find order within them.” Though her work is representational, she is always, in her words, “flirting with abstraction. . .There’s a balance between the literal and the conceptual. For me, painting is about seeing, experiencing, and articulating the world (things, spaces, places) around me. . .using observation, perspective, point of view and perception to translate the world I find myself in.”

Kathi is currently interested in “the role of the landscape in developing any one person’s sense of self, and, when conjured through sensations, such as color, light and touch, how powerful the visual memory of a place can be.” Introducing an implied “self” with a sense of identity in relation to a particular landscape necessarily inscribes it with a narrative quality. As Kathi says, “I look for narratives within the landscape. I find them in backyards, abandoned spaces and in those spaces in between that are often overlooked.”

Most of Smith’s paintings are started on location from direct observation, but are then brought to her studio, where she continues working on them. “Through this process, the paintings become a blend of both real and remembered worlds, more evocative of the subject matter than descriptive.” Kathi’s recent paintings are visually compelling landscapes relevant to her personal history, emotionally inscribed with sense memories of her family’s homestead in Nova Scotia, her hometown in western Maine, and Maine’s Great Cranberry Island. As such, their narrative holds an intimate, first person point of view: “I find familiarities in these places, where a particular light, color, or texture in the landscape will evoke a memory, then becoming my subject.”

Kathi Smith holds a BFA in Painting & Drawing from the University of Southern Maine (2003), and a MFA in Painting from the University of New Hampshire (2008). She has participated in many regional and national exhibitions, and numerous prestigious residencies. She received a full fellowship supported by the Joan Mitchell Foundation to the Vermont Studio Center and has been a Fellow and Artist-in-Residence at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Weir Farm National Historic Site in Connecticut, and the Heliker-LaHotan Foundation in Maine. She currently teaches studio arts at Husson University in Bangor.


2008 - University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH
2003 - University of Southern Maine, Gorham, ME

Selected Honors & Awards

  • Research Grant - Creative Inter-generational learning and the arts, Husson University (2018)

  • Annual Juried Exhibition, Bangor Art Society, Bangor, ME (2017, 2016)

  • Distinguished Faculty Community Service Award, Husson University (2016)

  • Distinguished Teaching Lecturer Award, Plymouth State University (2014)

  • Alfred and Trafford Klotts International Program for Artists, MICA Artist Residency Program, Brittany, France (2014)

  • Heliker-LaHotan Foundation, Full Fellowship - Artist Residency, Great Cranberry Island, ME (2013)

  • Acadia Residency, National Parks Service, Acadia National Park (2012)

  • Vermont Studio Center, Full Fellowship, Award supported by Joan Mitchell Foundation (2011)

Selected Exhibitions

  • 2018
    Kathi Smith & Matt Blackwell, Greenhut Galleries Portland, ME

  • 2016
    C’est La Vie, John Rohman Art Gallery, Eastern Maine Community College, Bangor, ME
    Home Sweet Home, Wilton Free Public Library, Wilton, ME

  • 2015
    Close to Home, Robert E. White Gallery, Husson University, Bangor, ME
    Brittany Paintings, Karl Drerup Gallery, Plymouth State University, NH

  • 2014
    Great Cranberry Island, Aucocisco Galleries, Portland, ME

  • 2013
    Kathi Smith & Bob Dyer, Aucocisco Galleries, Portland, ME
    Kathi Smith & Brandon Lutterman, Isaac Dyer Gallery, Gorham, ME
    Kathi Smith & B Millner, Patricia Ladd Carega Gallery, Sandwich, NH

  • 2012
    A Closer Look, New Hampton School, New Hampton, NH
    In Ink, Nichols College, Dudley, MA

John Danosreal&remembered