Pehr A.W. Smith
Pehr Smith is an artist living and working in Austin, Texas. His paintings, drawings, and collages combine figural and abstract forms and have been recognized for their visceral and direct qualities. Pehr received a BFA with Department Honors in Painting from Webster University in St. Louis, Missouri, and attended the Victoria College of Art in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. He earned an MFA in Painting from The University of Texas at Austin. Pehr has exhibited in California, Colorado, Missouri, Texas, and Canada. He has taught at The University of Texas at Austin, Texas State University, and at Austin Community College, where he has been an instructor since 1997. His work was featured at Webster University’s 100th-Anniversary Commemorative 40×100 Alumni Exhibition (2015) in St. Louis. Pehr’s work has been displayed in the Office of the Chancellor at Austin Community College and a number of his works reside in corporate and private collections around the country.
Current Courses 2020-2021
ARTS 1316 Drawing I
What do you most hope students will take away from your class?
I hope to inspire a zeal to create and to stoke the intellectual curiosity of my students. I hope they come away with the excitement of discovery and a joyful learning experience.
What types of books do you read? What are you reading now and/or what is one of the most treasured books on your bookshelf?
Among the countless books on art that have provided me with inspiration, I would list David Sylvester’s Interviews with Francis Bacon (1975), Voices of Silence (1951) by Andre Malraux, The Complete Van Gogh (1980) by Jan Hulsker, Art (1914) by Clive Bell, and A Giacometti Portrait (1965) by James Lord. My most treasured book is The Land Where the Blues Began (1970) by Alan Lomax.
What do you like to do for fun?
I enjoy writing, recording, performing, and supporting live music.
What is an early experience with art or a specific artwork that made you decide to pursue a career in the arts? How has that experience shaped you and/or how do you view art differently now?
My parents collected paintings; they met in New York City. As a child, I spent a lot of time enjoying their collection. When I was very young, they took me to the Metropolitan Museum, where I saw Aristotle Completing the Bust of Homer (1653) by Rembrandt and Jackson Pollock’s 1950 painting Autumn Rhythm (Number 30). I was moved in a profound way and found myself in another world. I remember my arms began to itch, and soon I was scratching myself all over. My mother told me to stop because she thought the other people there would think I had some problem.
If you could study under or interact with any living or historical artist, who would it be?
An unlimited access backstage pass to Rembrandt’s studio would perhaps be the ultimate. Most of the artists that I admire most deeply were labelled eccentric, unpleasant, and rather difficult in their times, Cezanne, Van Gogh, Picasso, Modigliani, Giacometti, Gorky, and Pollock all spring to mind.
How would you describe our current moment in art?
We live in a time of uncertainty and upheaval across the world. We’re faced with Herculean challenges. This moment in history demands our greatest creative efforts, faith, and hope. We rely on art, our common language, to forecast, chronicle, and create change.
What do you think Austin and/or ACC is uniquely placed to offer?
ACC draws its strength from its diverse community of students, faculty, and staff. ACC offers the most affordable and accessible high-quality education, support, and resources anywhere in the United States.