Home / People / Joe Willie Smith /

September 26, 1949
Elaine, Arkansas
My family moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin from Arkansas in 1952. That period is referred to as The Great Migration.

When I was very young, pre-teen years, my mother would would collect chipped white plates from the restaurant where she worked and give them to me to paint various subject matter, usually animals.

I also made potholders using loops made from recycled rags and owers made from magazine pages, she would sell whatever I created. I scour recycling centers, elds, alleys and thrifts stores for materials, repurposing materials as media has been a lifelong pursuit. Recycled materials are embedded with a sense of place, natural and cultural history.I also incorporate steel and concrete in my work using these materials as structural as well as medium.

I describe myself as a multimedia artist. I work with whatever medium to realize my ideas: sculpture, painting, photography, sound, performance and installation art.

My present public art reects community through conversation, observations and stories. I try to create work that provokes the public to be inquisitive and hopefully inspired.