Blair Ebony Smith, DRIVE Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Illinois in the Bow Gallery of Krannert Art Museum, 2019.
Blair Ebony Smith, DRIVE Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Illinois at Krannert Art Museum, 2019.

Smith comes to this role with a PhD in Education from Syracuse University and extensive experience in the Champaign-Urbana community. She has pursued public engagement as part of the SOLHOT collective (Saving Our Lives, Hear Our Truths), a project that addresses Black girlhood, empowerment, and art making.

Smith is also a sonic artist who performs as lovenloops, and this art practice informs her creative work, arts research, and community outreach.

Jorge Lucero, associate professor of Art Education in the School of Art + Design said of Smith’s potential impact for that program, “Art education encompasses a wider—more cross-disciplinary—array of discourses and practices, for which Dr. Smith has demonstrated high adeptness. Her community-based work benefits our graduate students because many of them work in spaces outside of the K-12 sphere, and her participation in the Art Education Program will also benefit undergraduates who need to develop an understanding of their art education toolbox outside of the classroom.”

When asked about the museum’s role in supporting this new position, Museum Director Jon Seydl emphasized KAM’s desire to connect with underserved communities through the arts.

“We’re excited about this opportunity to partner with Art Education through this important program and to foster Dr. Smith’s research and outreach through projects that dovetail with the museum’s mission,” Seydl said.

Smith reflected similar excitement about “extending my dissertation research focused on Black girlhood, Black feminism, sound art, and music-making that connects public engagement with museum and art education in new and innovative ways.”

The first of Smith’s projects in this role will be the Black Girl Genius Week Exhibition: Black Girls Are Forever!, including an exhibition at Krannert Art Museum Oct 7–31 and a weeklong series of public events Oct 7–11. Black Girl Genius Week makes the social life of Saving Our Lives Hear Our Truth’s celebration with Black girls’ public in as many ways as we can imagine.