Art Smith the First
African-American Jewelry Designer
"Arthur Smith was born in Cuba to Jamaican parents in 1917. In 1920, his family settled in Brooklyn, NY, where he honed his artistic talents. He was awarded a scholarship to Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art...Mr. Smith earned his degree in 1940, and instantly began taking jewelry making classes at NYU...In 1946, he opened his first shop on Cornelia Street in Greenwich Village. Soon after he relocated to 140 West Fourth and that move was his best move. Not only was he selling his pieces from his own store front; he was selling to boutiques in Boston, Chicago and San Francisco...
Mr. Smith was experiencing huge success. By the 1950′s, his unique jewelry pieces were featured in Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue and The New Yorker;...[this] press coverage gave him prestige amongst notable actors, singers, and dancers.In 1960, his notoriety flourished. He began using silver more in his growing collection. But one of his biggest achievements was designing a brooch for Eleanor Roosevelt and designing cuff links for Duke Ellington that included notes from Ellington’s 1930 song 'Mood Indigo.'
In 1969, he was recognized with an exhibition at the New York museum of Art and Design (then Museum of Contemporary Crafts). Art Smith closed his shop in 1979, and died of heart failure in 1982.
His artistic style can still be seen in jewelry today." (McDonald, February 19, 2013) His work is truely an inspiration.