Keith SmithBringing a World View to Art and Teaching

Keith Smith, professor of art and design, spent his early years globetrotting.

“My family lived in Panama, Hawaii, Japan and across the United States,” Smith says. “When I was 12, my father retired from the U.S. Air Force and we moved to Long Beach, California. That’s where I grew up. Traveling was a lot of fun and it contributed to my being an artist and the way I view the world.”

Often, the only person he had to play with on week-long troop ship journeys was his brother. Families were transported from one base assignment to another on military transport. The lone children aboard, they would occupy themselves drawing with crayons. That early exposure to art affected them both. He became an art professor and his brother became a museum director.
Smith joined County College of Morris in 1984 as an adjunct professor. In 1995, he was offered a full-time position and during the 20 years that followed served in many positions including Chair of the Department of Art and Design and Dean of Liberal Arts. He ended up stepping down as dean because he wanted to return to teaching.
“I’ve never been happier,” he says. “I enjoy being with young people who are forming their dreams.  It’s a great pleasure to help them plant a seed and watch it grow.”
He’s also an exhibiting artist, published poet and author. His artwork has been shown at The Museum of Modern Art in New York City, the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C. and many other distinguished institutions. His artworks also hang in the permanent collections of many museums. In addition, he is the author and illustrator of “Mourning Sickness,” a book about coping with grief.
In his spare time, he donates his talents toward designing interior elements of churches including altars, choir stalls and pulpits.
His first love, however, is painting. “It’s very much like a meditation for me. When painting, I am relaxed, peaceful and unaware of time passing. I think all the arts, when you are fully engaged in them, have that quality.”