Today we’d like to introduce you to Tiffany Wolf Smith.
So, before we jump into specific questions, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I have always been a maker. Even as a child. I have a big scar on my knee from a glue gun from when I was eight and building a small wooden dollhouse for my tiny glass dog collection. My parents were always amazingly supportive and just let me do my thing and work through all the cuts and burns! In high school, I took every art class available at my small international school in Manila, Philippines. Shout out to Mr. French for providing such a rich learning environment for students from so many backgrounds!
Like most young artists, I was unsure of what art can do and where it can take you. After high school, I moved to Fort Worth to study interior design at TCU. That’s a creative job where you can at least make money right? I still love interior design and architecture but found it was limited and restricting. I didn’t enjoy it and my grades started to slide. My junior year, I nervously switched to a studio major. And it changed my entire academic experience. I was so excited to be in the studio. I nerded out like crazy and found incredibly supportive mentors in my professors. After earning my BFA, I felt like I was just getting started and could not wait for more school. I continued on to earn my MFA at Southern Methodist University. Jay Sullivan, the department chair at the time, described my MFA work as being a “slave to space”. I couldn’t help but carry over my love for interior design and architecture into my art-making practice.
Fast forward several years and I feel so fortunate to have been part of two amazing artist collaboratives, 500X and HOMECOMING! Committee. And I have been happily employed by the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth for nearly 15 years. For 9 of those years, I have worked as an Assistant Curator of Education. It has given me the opportunity to work with numerous artists around the metroplex and design programming for all ages.
Has it been a smooth road?
It has not been smooth. But who really wants smooth? Smooth is boring. Like many artists, there are autobiographical threads that move throughout my work. And I learn just as much from the bad times as the good. Break-ups make great work! Marriage and transitioning into motherhood makes great work! But, work, life, family and art are hard to balance. I took a year off from the studio to adjust to motherhood after we brought home our daughter. She is a toddler now and I still struggle to be as prolific as I would like. I share studio space with some incredible artists. And it’s hard not to feel the need to keep up with them. But that’s unrealistic at this time in my life. Small goals are the way to go! And just keep moving on from there.
We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
I love my job as Assistant Curator of Education at the Modern. Working with the public is a lot of fun. I design studio programs for a wide range of age groups; adult studios, Art Camp for kids, special interest studios for member groups and docents. Every program focuses on what is on view in the galleries. The exhibitions rotate every few months so everything always feels fresh and it never gets old. Some programs I teach but I often team up with artists who can offer additional insight into the works and processes on view in the galleries. I’m particularly excited about a new program, MODERN BILLINGS, I’m doing in collaboration with my brilliant colleague, Jesse Morgan Barnett. Using space from Clear Channel Outdoor as programming sites, Jesse and I work with artists to situate imagery and text onto billboards, elements of the city that traditionally present commercial advertisements rather than cultural curiosities.
As for my personal art practice, I have a show on the horizon with my friend and fellow artist, Michelle Justice. This two woman show will be on view at the Dora Lee Langdon Art Center. The gallery exists inside of an old house, originally built in 1882 as a family residence by A.P. Gordon. The space tics all of my favorite boxes; domestic interiors, interesting architecture and the ghosts of personal history. The walls are upholstered with fabric. There are moldings throughout. Old stained glass windows. And fully furnished rooms complete with old furniture, desks, a piano, rugs and two fireplaces. My “grandma aesthetic” is having a heyday making works in response to that space!
Is our city a good place to do what you do?
The DFW metroplex is great place for an artist to land. We have rich cultural districts spreading from Dallas to Forth Worth. There are so many great artists running the Fine Arts Departments at our local universities. And several profit and nonprofit spaces that are doing some really exciting things. Lots of DIY artist coops and collaborations have popped up around here over the years. It is great to see what happens when artists give themselves full agency. With the current state of the world, I hope to see more collaborations to sustain our community and contribute to the artistic energy funneled into this place. We want to keep our artists around!
- Website: tiffanywolfsmith.com
- Email: email@example.com
Image credits for the portraits go to Jose Serrato.