Darden Smith’s multi-media practice spans photography, drawing, illustration, video, songs, essays and performance. He seeks to find the humor in the mundane, the beauty in the rubble and the grace of the overlooked detail in order to translate what he sees into something new. He’s not interested in making an exact replica of what he sees because, in his words, “We already have that.” Moving between and combining mediums allows Smith a broader horizon in which to work. Smith is rooted in the Texas songwriting traditions, and as such, the power of story is prevalent in his works. In his mind, a piece, whether it’s a song, drawing or photograph, isn’t finished until it sings.
As a visual artist he is influenced by cartoons, line drawings, his quite extensive stamp collection, Francisco Goya’s etchings, Karl Blossfeldt’s nature photography, Cy Twombly’s paintings, Francesco Clementi’s watercolors, and what he calls rhythmic visual dissonance – the objects and repeated patterns our lives.
Along with releasing 16 full length albums, Smith has composed music for film, TV and dance/theater. His symphony, Grand Motion (1999) was commissioned by the Austin Symphony. Smith’s visual art has been shown at Bale Allen Gallery (2018), Flatbed Press (2019) and Mark Smith Art (2020) and Redbud Gallery (2022). His work is in private and corporate collections in the US, UK and Belgium, as well as the Library of Congress’ Prints and Photographs Collection.
Smith’s book, The Habit of Noticing: Using Creativity to Make a Life (and a Living) was released in 2018. Western Skies is Smith’s latest release and is his most expansive project to date, encompassing a book of photographs, lyrics and essays; an album of new songs; lithographs; drawings; video and spoken word.