Magazine Posts Table of Contents
Talk with Meryl Pataky. San Francisco Neon Artist Jonathan Stein, Artist Interview

Hey Paul, what are you working on these days? 

At the moment I'm all over the map trying to figure out what I'm doing. Figuring out where I'm moving to next and understanding the work I'm making in my studio as well as the foods I hope to enjoy in the days to come. 

You live and work in Kansas City. You seem very passionate about it. Tell us what it's like being there as an artist?

It's the most supportive community I've ever lived in. The people here are friendly and you just have to get to know them without making preconceived judgements. I moved here back in 2007 and that's over six years and counting. I want to leave but I wont have access to the amazing facilities this city have to offer. Kansas City is a place where an artist such as myself can function and achieve the goals I desire. 

Is there any good Jamaican food in Kansas City? 

There are a few Jamaican restaurants G's Jamaican cuisine and Island Spice,  but they are nothing like what I want. They cook a bit unique. I tend to head back east to New York, 
We catch up with Paul Smith, a young artist from Miami but developed his craft in Kansas City and is now in search of new places to roam. We discuss art, food and other daily rituals. 
where I get some killer food in Mt. Vernon, NY off of White Plains road or in Flatbush or Bushwick, Brooklyn. and also in Miami at Junies, off NW 184 St in Miami Gardens, these places are where I usually go to get a plate of Curry Goat, Oxtail or Brown Stew Fish. What I'm saying is that it taste best on the coast. 

How does your upbringing seep into your practice? 

Food is the most important thing to life. No food, no life. So I'm always trying to find a new place to eat. I use my taste buds to enjoy another culture's feast and travel.  Much of my work revolves around nostalgia and questioning the culture, religions and aesthetic of Jamaica that I never experienced. I find myself at an in-between place at times. it's research that shows up in the work I produce. 

What's the biggest misconception people have about your art? 

For a while I've been working on the picotaged work and many times they are misconstrued to be glitter or sand. a granular product of some sort, but its actually torn paper. regardless, someone who is unfamiliar with my process will think its a product that they may be familiar to them, so its making that relation. its kind of how the general world knows Picasso's and Warhol's

So many of the faces in your work go missing. When did that start happening? 
Is there a definitive reason behind it? 

The faces began missing once I began painting black people who had features that were a bit unrecognizable. It really started back in High School. Many of my friends would take photos of me and many times I was unrecognizable, due to the lack of a flash. a few years later I revisited the idea of how some peoples identity are removed or misidentified. I began working around this idea, looking at masks and how various cultures use masks in ritualistic ceremonies as a coming of age and right of passage. I used masks in my picotaged works which best fit the process and content of masking the people in those works. My painted figures have now become anonymous, which are the tarmac workers who I have no direct relations with. 

Do you have any rituals or activities you do to stay focused?

It's always best to take breaks and time out for myself, these breaks may be considered as short field trip or travel. At times I need to be by the ocean (the SEA), and a change of scene to continue doing the things I do.  It's life and in order to maintain myself and stay focused I have to be selfish and put myself first. More so self respect. I try to do this atleast once a year. 

You are really happy when? 

I'm really happy when I'm around family and friends and sharing meals. The act of eating food is a communal ritual that brings people together. It's a gratifying feeling to know that we can all be together no matter our backgrounds. Being outside in nature is also a plus. The mountains of Colorado and the Ocean. Star gazing. 
"I began working around this idea, looking at masks and how various cultures use masks in ritualistic ceremonies as a coming of age and right of passage."
- P.A.S.
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Learn more about Paul Anthony Smith by clicking here.