P. Smith: Unfiltered @Gallery 221


Jose Arroyo

A work of art titled “Charge” uses vibrant colors and dramatic images.

People chattered with excitement at the Gallery 221 reception for Utopias by Mark Thomas Gibson, William Villalongo and Princess Smith: Unfiltered. It was clear to see from the moment you arrive that this exhibit reception was unlike any other before. The crowd filled in quickly and the air was abuzz with excitement, awe, and intrigue.

Everywhere you looked, there were groups of people in deep conversation reflecting on the artwork before them.

Upstairs on the second floor of Gallery 221, Princess Smith, a Tampa native, and former HCC student, greeted everyone and engaged in conversation with admirers of her art. Her friendly personality and inviting smile made you feel welcomed and appreciated as you spoke with her.

Her artwork on display was powerful, bold, and eye-catching.

In her artwork, you can see the messages she was trying to convey to her audience about womanhood, identity, injustice, and representation; you can sense the pride glowing through her art.

All of this was a prelude of what was to come, Princess Smith’s lecture.

Smith spoke with a confidence that made you believe the words that she was saying. Right from the beginning of her speech, you immediately knew that she was someone who had something to say and was not afraid to say it. She started by addressing the students in attendance and said, “The struggle gets real, and it will continue to get real, but it will start to get beautiful and the work and inspiration and everything starts to come together.”

She then began to explain her relationship with her mother and how she played an important role in her own inspiration.

Smith is also a mother, who is now reflecting on the lessons her mother instilled in her while raising her own child. In addition, she explained how the Baked and Served collection, one of her oldest and favorite bodies of work, was inspired by her love of music and how the lyrics of a song inspired her to look at herself and realize how she wanted to be treated or represented.

She thought about her own daughter and how she would be affected by these misrepresentations. She took the audience through the birth of her BBBs (big black bitches).

These were the beautiful images of the bald-headed, nude, big, black women that became the main component of her art. Smith conveyed her message, unfiltered, through her art and the BBBs were the messengers. She used colorism in her art to represent the different skin tones of the African American community.

It is clearly displayed in a larger than life piece, Charge. This piece depicts the Thots vs BBBs. It was a piece of unity and solidarity despite how a woman decides to represent herself. She explained how it came from a place of resentment and judgment towards other women, but ended up representing something different after she looked back and reflected upon it.

During her Q and A session, she was asked, “If she talks to her daughter and lets her daughter see some of the images she creates?” She said, “We have talks about identity, and about self-love… It’s important for me to make sure she understands that regardless, she is the most awesome being… I will not let her doubt herself. I will not allow her to think that she is less than anybody else.”

The love between Smith, her daughter, and her mother is undeniable. This is a woman who was empowered by a strong independent woman passing on those lessons to a new generation. Smith represents a voice in this generation that is not afraid to speak her mind. She is boldly challenging people to think outside their comfort zones. She is using her platform to build confidence in herself, her daughter, and in others.

For more information visit https://www.psmithart.com/

Jose Arroyo
Smith inspires students with her lecture on her images and the BBBs.