Reflections on family and history will dominate during the opening of a new exhibit by artist Dwight Smith at Gallery 208 on Thursday, April 17, at 5:30 p.m.
    Smith, a Michigan native who now resides in Fayetteville, has been working on the art in the exhibit since the late ‘80s. To him, the works reflect his thoughts and ideas on family.
“Since the late 1980s, I have been creating artwork thematically described as Ancestral Reflections or Ancestral Dialogues,” he said in his artist statement. “The works were personal reflections about family and history. These works, while adhering to philosophical and stylistic tenets of abstract expressionism, significantly draw inspiration from elements of design visible in African masks, multistrip textiles, shields, body cicatrizations, ideograms and other material manifestations of African folkways. Such inspirational sources have become metaphors for my rich cultural heritage and the catalysts for making art.”
While Smith’s collection is varied, this grouping is more personal.
    “The works in this exhibition are very special to me. They represent my artistic voice at various stages of my creative growth and development,” he explained. “When showing a large body of works at any given time, I always enjoy showing a variety of works. The visual harmony between the paintings, drawings or works on paper becomes a choir of visual voices that help me keep my artistic dialogue fresh and always interesting. I like listening to my inner responses evoked by the compositions and following the path to where they will lead me.”
    He added that many of the works are “celebrations of life or tributes to artists I know or have been fortunate enough to meet,” while others tackle “social realities concerning the world of African-American art histories and global perspectives.”
    Smith has shown both nationally and internationally. His 30-year career has allowed him to work in a variety of media, with concentration on four very different and distinct themes: abstract imagery, landscapes, textiles and mask-life forms.
    “I am fond of using the Adinkra symbols (found in the culture of West Africa). They are a visual language and each of the symbols has a message,” he said. “Such inspirational sources have become metaphors and guides for grounding myself in my rich cultural heritage and the creation of my art.”
Along with exhibitions in the United States, Smith’s works have been seen worldwide with shows in Dakar Senegal and in 1996, his work was included in a touring exhibition North Africa. In 1999, he received critical acclaim for his solo exhibition, Peintures (Paintings) held at the L’Escalier Gallery in Aurillac, France.
Smith is a member of the National Conference of Artists (NCA) a national organization of African American artists, art educators, curators and historians. Smith has held positions with NCA as the national president, president of the Michigan Chapter and Board member of that Chapter.  He is also a member of the Fayetteville Arts Guild.
    Smith is the president and chief executive officer of the Ellington-White Community Development Corporation, a community-based visual arts organization for young people located in Detroit and now in Fayetteville. Its mission is to promote the cultural arts and provide healthy lifestyle programs that offer young people mentoring, job training, work experiences, career exploration and leadership skills which are vital to the growth and development of a healthy community.
    “Up & Coming Weekly is delighted to have Dwight’s artwork on exhibit at Gallery 208,” said Jean Bolton, general manager of Up & Coming Weekly. “He has become an integral part of our arts community since his move to Fayetteville and we are fortunate to be able share his work with the community.”
Gallery 208 is the downtown gallery of the Fayetteville Museum of Art. It is located in the corporate headquarters of Up & Coming Weekly. The exhibit opening will feature not only great art, but great food and excellent company. The event is free and open to the public.
    Gallery 208 is located at 208 Rowan Street. The Up & Coming Weekly offices are open from 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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