ART New Orleans Magazine





The Struggle to Survive
Ed Smith Tells the Story of Nature vs. Modern Technology Clashing

Story by Debra Kronowitz

Inspired by the works of John James Audubon, artist Ed Smith focuses on the wildlife of his adopted Louisiana. “I have been awestruck by the amazing volume and array of birds here in combination with the explosion of industry and its resulting pollution up and down the Mississippi River,” said Smith.

Born in Naples, Italy, Smith received a bachelor of fine arts from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and a master’s of fine arts from Brooklyn College, CUNY. He taught painting and drawing at Queens College in the early 1990s. Today, he lives Baton Rouge, LA, where he is an associate professor of painting at Louisiana State University.

Smith’s interest in conservation began early in life when he was an original crew member of the conservation ship Sea Shepherd. Upon moving to Louisiana, his interest in depicting wildlife’s struggle through his work came about from driving past chemical plants and seeing how nature intermingled. “My work just sprung out of that,” he said.

Smith uses traditional perspective and abstract pattern in his large-scale oil paintings. Through lush decoration and well-observed naturalistic detail Smith shows the clash between nature and modern technology. He uses irony and metaphors in his depiction of birds and wildlife to address his political concerns. “My work is about the inherent conflict at the boundaries of the wild and developed worlds,” said Smith. “My hope for my paintings is that they are visually appealing, intellectually stimulating and tell a good story.”

For the past two years, Smith has been working on a new series of work called Struggle to Survive. The work consists of approximately 60 paintings that further depict how rapid encroachment is making survival even more desperate.

Smith’s work has been exhibited throughout the United States, including Dartmouth College, Westbeth Gallery, New York Queens College, Sylvia Schmidt Gallery, Soren Christensen Gallery, The Walter Anderson Museum, and The Contemporary Art Center in New Orleans.