Alvin Smith

Artist Statement

I'm a visual artist who is primarily drawn to painting works that matter. A lot of my work depicts socially charged images which are important not only to myself, but to the masses. Art is the loudest part of my voice, and I am compelled to use it.

I'm currently using acrylic and water soluble oils to create these storytelling works. I learned through years of trial and error that using these mediums while layering in watercolor techniques works the best for me. As a child of seven or eight years of age, art was the happy place that I regularly retreated to. It was my (Momma) that inspired me from the start. She drew images of powerful women in order to cope with her own circumstances. Whether that was fighting with dad, or difficulties at making ends meet, she would draw. When she finished I would grab what she'd drawn and stare in amazement. I can see her influence on my own style with how the clothes have movement with the characters in my works. While I am not shackled to any particular kind of depiction, I do have a certain love for displaying the urban community experience.

As an example of this experience, I've embarked on a journey through a series of socially charged paintings I call "Underprivileged Oasis." In each installment, the oasis is represented by the neighborhood liquor store. With an honest, and sometimes ugly look at the things that tend to occur there. On display are truths that many know of, but few shine light on. These works beg the question, why have these stores become gathering places for urban communities?

Artist Bio

Alvin Lavon Smith Jr. is an incarcerated artist in Michigan's Department of Corrections. He was born in Laurel, Mississippi, and grew up in Ypsilanti, Michigan. Alvin has been a long time participant in the University of Michigan's Prison Creative Arts Project (PCAP) and one of only fifteen American incarcerated artists to be invited to participate in the "We Bear Exhibition" in Coventry England (February 2022). His art has been published by College Inside, a newsletter about prison education published by Open Campus, has his works cataloged in the Kruizenga Art Museum, has had illustrations featured in the educational textbooks including” Incarceration and The Law: Cases and Materials, Tenth Edition”, and has had works published in books documenting struggles of making art while in prison, including “Making Art in Prison: Survival and Resistance”. In 2023 his editorial illustration “Mail Call” was published with Zócalo Public Square and several artworks were included in “Work Assignments: Contemporary Systems of Oppression,” an art installation commissioned for the Bayview Urban Arts Festival, hosted by California Lawyers for the Arts. Alvin’s solo show “Underprivileged Oasis” debuts at MUSE SE, Grand Rapids, Michigan, January 18th — February 18th, 2024.

Contact Information

Alvin Smith (#214299)

2400 S.Sheridan Drive

Muskegon, MI 49442

emial via:

Michigan | Muskegon

Artwork Detail: Manifesto, C.K. Gerhartsreiter AKA TAFKA Clark Rockefeller, 2022