Ed Smith is a Professor of Art and the Director of the Marist College Art Gallery. He teaches Drawing, Printmaking, Sculpture, 3-D Design, Capping, among others. He is also the Director of the Venice Biennale Program.
How did you become involved in art and know that you wanted to teach it?
I studied with GREAT artists! These great figures gave me access to a world and understanding that was and still is a blessing! I'm proud to say these great men and women are friends and exemplars. As for teaching back in the day, these great artists would sort of see something in you. They were the ones who opened a door because of what they saw in you and your work. They had integrity! They were great tremendous figures and I just try to live up to a shadow of what they were.
Why is it important to teach art?
Art makes us more human, open, and aware and in these dark times it is essential to hang onto that "humanity.” If we fail we are lost. It is a language. Language must be preserved and passed along if we as people are to mean anything at all.
What do you enjoy the most about teaching students about art?
The best/most exciting part is using another mind. We all have our own point of view and ethos but imagine seeing it through another's eyes by what they create, how they see and solve a problem. There is an epiphany for you and that is the exciting part!
What is your favorite part about the College?
The central core of Marist is always the students. We have a culture where we’re given the opportunity to grow, create, innovate and that reinforces a desire to excel. The administration gives the faculty the chance to teach what we know and to grow along with the entire community.
When it comes to your underclassmen students, how do you get these students engaged and excited in the course material?
Everything is based upon the work. I have freshmen and seniors mixed together and they learn from one another. My courses are a meritocracy. Students realize this and step up to that challenge. There is a motivation in the human soul to do something great, important, and worthwhile.
For your upperclassmen, how do you try to relate your subjects to real-world material and prepare these students for life after graduation?
My students succeed because they know the honor and dignity of work. They get jobs and go to graduate school because people see what they are made of, what they want and how hard they work. I invest heartily in them and they become a part of the "family", the lineage.
What is your favorite classroom moment or something that you're exceptionally proud of from a professor perspective?
When you see a student go past the fear of the unknown they might have. When they move beyond the safe and begin to reach.
What is one thing about yourself that you would like a prospective student to know?
I work. Everything is embodied in the attitude and discipline of work. I adhere to ideals that are out of style now, concepts that should be the cornerstones of our tradition but have been passed over because they are hard. These words are work, discipline, integrity, soul, courage and passion. Students want to do something great with their lives. And these are great things.
What is something that you hope your students take away from their time working and learning from you?
I want to introduce students to the discipline and love of work. It gives me no greater joy than to see students working on their work. Work that is self-directed, self-motivated and grounded in this great lineage of visual art.
Written by Adriana Belmonte '17
Profile Tags:Profile Type: Faculty
Academic School: Communication and the Arts
Campus: New York