New York-based artist Tom Smith is firmly rooted in a generation of queer artists bridging our digital world with the tradition of painting. Smith has exhibited around the world creating surreal fantasy installations to re-contextualize his works. Smith received a BFA from MICA, Baltimore, MD in 2006 and a MFA from the School of Visual Arts, NY in 2008. His work has been exhibited in Australia, Brazil, China, France, Ireland and Taiwan and he has participated as artist in residence at Largo das Artes in Rio de Janeiro as well as the Atlantic Center for the Arts in New Smyrna, Florida. Smith is also the co-creator of DragOn, a drag and costume ball that has raised over $100,000 for HIV/AIDS related organizations in NYC. His work has been featured in publications around the world such as The New York Times, The Creators Project (VICE),Elle and Marie Claire (Taiwan) and the Sydney Morning Herald.
Primarily a painter, Smith spent 3 months social distancing in his studio during the pandemic where he created a series of 36 “strip paintings”. These meticulously hand-crafted pieces are made through a process of painting two works on paper in opposing colors. The paintings are then sliced into tiny strips and alternately glued to a panel. The result appears like an image in motion, viewed through a vibrating digital filter. Smith comments on the subversive yet playful imagery present in the paintings, “In 2008 I made 36 fast drawings to unearth subconscious images. I immediately saw an unlimited supply of pictures connected to my sexuality without censorship. At the time I was openly gay but not yet comfortable showing pictures so apparently queer. At the beginning of the lockdown in New York I found the drawings and realized this was the perfect time to finish them as paintings because I had the time as well as privacy. Now that they’re finished I realize these things don’t just represent my own sexual impulses but that others see and interpret differently depending on their own imaginations.”