When Alice Smith hears the word "art," she immediately associates it with expression and community. Her public sculpture on the corner of Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks Boulevards in Detroit stands as a testament to her creative inspiration.
"Most of my personal work is directed toward human rights, equality and social justice," explained Smith. "It was a great honor to be commissioned by Corktown Development to create this piece commemorating Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks. Through its size I wanted it to represent how they stood above earthly things."
The installation, Smith's first large-scale outdoor sculpture, stands 20-feet by 3-feet by 3-feet and consists of two triangular concave designs in metal. She positioned the pieces to "speak to each other" through a conversation about "elevating one's self to serve others."
As part of the renovation of the Paradise Alley Cultural and Entertainment District in downtown Detroit, Smith is working on her third public sculpture scheduled to go up in August (2009). It will be comprised of stainless steel and glass. She was commissioned by the Sherry Washington Gallery for this project. Her second public sculpture is located on the Wayne State campus, and the artist has contributed to other public art displays at Campus Martius, Ferndale High School and the College for Creative Studies.
Smith has participated in glass and iron conferences in North Carolina, Alabama and Japan. Her work is scheduled to be included in the September Women of Steel show at Washtenaw Community College. Past exhibitions at the Scarab Club as well as the jRainey and Dell Pryor galleries have also featured her sculptures.
Originally a ceramics major, Smith was ultimately seduced by molten glass and its relationship to sculpture
I found glass fascinating," said Smith. But even more than glassblowing, I was drawn to how the material could be used to make a stronger statement in my sculptures… Someday I would love to open an urban glass shop. I've found that there are limited art resources for children in Detroit, and I'd like to expose underprivileged people in our community to the beauty of glass and sculpture."
Smith is involved in several community arts initiatives. She recently finished a project called TechTown Pillars, in which school-age children were encouraged to put their designs on pillars in the city. She is also the founder of Metro Multicultural Fine Arts (MMFA), a non-profit organization dedicated to providing arts education and cultural awareness to an underserved population that would otherwise not have access to arts education and programming.