Artist Tremain Smith is in the first cohort of students in the new Teaching Artist Certificate program. Smith earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Pennsylvania, and has also studied at Carnegie-Mellon University, Tyler School of Art and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. An artist all her life, Smith took some time away from art and worked as a community organizer in West Philadelphia for over 10 years. Then, realizing she couldn’t abandon her first love, she went back to art and began her professional career as an artist. “After 15 plus years in the studio, I have come full circle again to the point where I want my art practice and my social and community concerns to converge,” she said.
Smith wants to promote artistic expression as a means to move and empower people of all generations and backgrounds, and believes she can do this through teaching. “I would like to use my skills as an artist to influence others not only through the impact of viewing my artwork, but also by helping people tap into their own creative potential and process.”
Although Smith has been conducting art classes and workshops for years, a recent teaching opportunity and inter-generational project moved her to want to teach more and with greater skill. She said she has already used the knowledge gained in the Certificate Program to improve her effectiveness in teaching art. “My interactions with my current students deepened because of the understanding I now have of their developmental processes,” she said.
Smith has especially enjoyed the Child Development/Human Behavior course where one project was the critical evaluation on the development of a child through an interview process. “I evaluated my 12-year-old son and learned quite a bit about him,” she said.
In her own work, Smith uses a mixed-media technique composed of layers of oil glazes, collaged elements and transparent beeswax fused by an open flame or an iron. She seals wood panels with wax and applies color by adhering cloth and paper with transparent wax and alternating this with layers of oil paint. This basis serves as a departure point – from there, she moves freely.
Smith has shown in group exhibitions locally, nationally and internationally and has had 25 solo exhibitions in the last eleven years, including solo shows in Chicago, Santa Monica, Calif., Scottsdale, Ariz., Atlanta and New York, as well as Philadelphia. He work is part of collections at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Lancaster Museum of Art, and the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, among others. She has also received a Leeway Foundation Window of Opportunity Grant, served as an Artist-in-Residence and taught at several area schools.
Complimenting her professional success as a working artist, Smith believes the Teaching Artist Certificate Program is leading her towards a fruitful future in teaching art. “The two paths enhance each other and I have already been inspired by the program,” she said. “It is well worth the investment of time and money. It has renewed my excitement about education in general and given me the belief that all education leads to something new and expansive.”
Visit tremainsmith.com to learn more about Smith’s work.