We love art in Weekenderland so we’re delighted to present an interview with Misha Smart, whose work you can find on the walls of Paperman’s coffeehouse this May.
Where are you from originally? How and when did you stumble upon Cayman?
Originally, I’m from a small island called Piers, off the coast of British Columbia. It’s a tiny, little island with cabin style houses that line the beaches.
I came to Grand Cayman for the first time two years ago, with my boyfriend, to visit his family. I was instantly taken with the beauty of the islands and the company I was surrounded by. Grand Cayman holds a special place in my heart.
How long have you been creating art?
I have been painting for the last 10 years. The first five years were mostly experimental. I spent a great deal of time trying various styles and mediums and creating a particular style of my own that allows me to communicate my personal vision and experiences. Over the last five years, I have developed that style and become inspired by British Columbia’s natural environment and the places I am lucky enough to visit, including Grand Cayman.
Did you study art in college?
I studied Fine Arts and Art Education at the University of Victoria, while completing a degree in Education. My time in University allowed me to experience art from both the perspective of a student and an educator. I met people that inspired me to pursue my love of art as a career and came to understand the important role that artistic experiences play in the development of a child.
Is it a hobby or a full time occupation for you?
Currently, art has become a full time occupation. I also work part-time as an art teacher at a local middle school. I love the balance that I have found between these roles and feel lucky to be able to juggle them, though at times it does get a little crazy. Neither ‘occupations’ really feel like work, I enjoy every minute!
What media do you work in and how would you describe your style?
I work in acrylics on canvas and also incorporate India ink into some of my work. I consider my style ‘graphic coastal depictions’ characterized by bright colour and bold lines. I was originally inspired by the beauty of stained glass work and wanted to transfer this cellular type of artwork onto a canvas. For years, I have studied stained glass artists and collected old pattern books from the 60’s and 70’s, I’m fascinated with it and hope to give it a try myself in the near future.
What are your favourite subjects and what most inspires you?
My surrounding environment plays a huge role in my work and exploring new places has always sparked inspiration for me. After returning home from my last trip to Grand Cayman, I found myself scrolling though the photographs I had taken and almost felt overwhelmed with inspiration. I wanted to get it all out onto canvas, from the scenic locations to the structures and sea life. I needed to paint with the brilliant colours of the Caribbean that always seem to leave me awestruck.
Is there a theme or common thread that ties all the works together?
This exhibition is titled, “Inspirations from the Cayman Islands”. The pieces are an expression of my experience and interaction with the landscape. I hope that my audience will connect with these images in their own personal way, finding a relationship between themselves and the image. When connections are made, it has the power to evoke feeling and create a unique experience for the viewer.
Our personal experiences shape our being, the way I create art and the way an audience views an artistic piece. This idea was at the forefront of my mind while creating the series.
Have you exhibited elsewhere?
As my major body of work is reflective of Canada’s West Coast, I have primarily shown in venues located in the Pacific Northwest. This will be my first solo international exhibit and I am thrilled!
What do you like to do when you are not making art?
When I am not creating, I like spending time outdoors. I love to pack up my paints and canvas, the bikes and paddle boards and head to the beach for the day or weekend. My friends and family share my love of the outdoors, so summer is a cherished time that includes camping, bonfires, boat trips and star gazing.
If you couldn’t be an artist, what would you do instead?
If I wasn’t an artist, I would probably pursue teaching full time. Children make me happy and keep me grounded; I have a lot of fun with it. As a teacher you feel all their struggles and successes, to provide them with the right tools and encouragement and see that change happen is really a special thing.