Tell us about your work
I’m an artist, an image consultant, and I have a salon, Hair Lounge Dallas, on Swiss Avenue. My art is modern, contemporary, but more eclectic and freestyle. My artist’s name is Smith Paris Art. We’ve had the salon over ten years in that same location and I’ve been styling hair, makeup, fashion, and studied in all three genres for over 25 years. I’ve had Smith Paris Art for the past 5 years I’ve been on tour and really been pushing my art more than anything and it’s featured in the salon as a gallery. I’ve done my own shows here in Dallas, as well as Essence Fest, The Smith Center in Las Vegas, Washington D.C. with the Black Caucus, and the African Festival of the Arts in Chicago.
How would you describe arts and culture in Dallas?
This is a great question because I just left the international arts show in L.A. and it was so amazing that there were artists from different walks of life, artists from Paris France, to New York, and it wasn’t “black art” it was just art in general. I think that we’re divided in Dallas because it’s black artists, and then “other artists,” and that’s when it gets complicated because the artists featured at most of the high end galleries uptown are the artists who simply say “I’m a painter, I’m a visual artist, I’m a creator,” as opposed to if we join allegiance with the black art industry, I feel that I minimize my spectrum and I say “I’m a black artist” which classifies me, and depreciates me. So I’m an artist in general, and that’s what being at the festival brought to my spirit. It was so exciting to see art, period, versus a label.
What drew you/what keeps you in Dallas?
My mom lived here forever, in Fort Worth, and my aunt and uncle raised me so I would come to visit her, so I ended up here and never left. Eventually, I went back to Vegas for 3 years then came back, got a salon and it’s been an amazing journey. The love of hair drew me back here. The salon is so eclectic and interesting, and it’s a pleasure to come to work every day. There was a time when I would travel back and forth from Vegas to L.A., and Vegas to Dallas and would end up being in Dallas for two weeks at a time, and L.A. for two days at a time. So I had to just make a conscious decision and ask myself “where am I making the most money and spending the most time?” So after 3 years I came back here and it just took off. Not the art, because it took a backseat and I focused on the hair. So now the hair is taking a back seat and the art and image consulting are my focal points.
What does your art reveal about you?
My vulnerabilities, my strength, and my power. I think every piece has something to do with me and my state of mind, that day. There was a period where I was painting mostly with hues of blue. It was a very depressing period, but right now the colors are vibrant. They’re almost electrifying, because that’s where I am and that’s where I’ll stay. I think as an artist of any kind you’re forever evolving, so with me painting predominantly women and their profiles and styles and emotion that’s all a part of me. I know for sure the emotional side of me on any given day is going to transcend from me into that piece.
What are your hopes for the cultural plan?
Opportunity. The showings that I’ve been able to attend at galleries here have been amazing, but as I mentioned, they’re also predominantly one thing versus the other. I think that we have to be brave enough as artists to take some of our work and say “here’s my book, here’s some of my work, and I can be featured in your gallery if you give me the opportunity,” but it’s hard because we’re so separate. It’s about what you feel, but if we keep ourselves in a box and say “I only want to feature this or that,” then that’s what’s going to happen. So I think mixing it up would be great, but you have to have the opportunity.