FAFO Ocala Arts Festival’s Featured Artist

Michelle McDowell Smith, a native of Jacksonville, FL, has always had a passion to create art. In 1997, she graduated from the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) with a major in illustration and a minor in art history. Her studies instilled in her the importance of using symbols and metaphors in her work to create emotion and meaning. She also became skilled in the use of a wide variety of materials and mixed media techniques.

Michelle strives to create pieces that have a familiar narrative yet still convey a fresh look and allow for the unexpected. She works on canvas using acrylic paint and a plethora of mixed media materials such as handcrafted papers, sewing patterns, maps, old letters, postcards, pages from vintage books, handmade linoleum stamps, and more. Her process involves collaging the various materials onto the canvas and then working into them with acrylic paint to add color, create depth, and to blend them seamlessly together.

Michelle’s current body of work, titled “Of Land and Sky, Whimsical and Free” began in 2014 and focuses on storytelling, nostalgia, and a hope for the future. The work, which has light-hearted and whimsical touches, has been shown in more than 60 juried art shows around the country. She has won Best in Show or Best in Category seven times while taking home other awards and plaudits on 17 additional occasions.