Giana Smith, Visual Arts

Growing up, Giana Smith had a strong passion for creating and illustrating. However, she had always been told there were no steady careers in art. 

So, the Northfield resident enrolled at Stockton with the plan to become an English teacher. Fast forward two years, and Smith enrolled in an Image and Typography class. This one course showed her there were careers doing what she always wanted to do: illustrate. “I was a lonely little kid. The most fun I ever had was retreating to other worlds, especially the ones entirely of my own making.”

As a Visual Arts major, Smith says she feels especially uniquely privileged as the classes are small and intimate.

“I have had the same handful of professors since I began taking art classes, and their frequent one-on-one dialogues with me about my work, at every stage of its creation, has been invaluable to me,” Smith said. “As both an artist and a person, I really feel like I am being seen, appreciated and understood when I talk with them.”

After graduating this month, she hopes to find a job in illustration or graphic design, while simultaneously pursuing her dream of being a writer and illustrator of her own books.

Smith has been on a long journey this year with her senior project. Through her illustrations, she hopes to “create a ‘home’ of my own making, where the smallness and silliness of healthy home life is celebrated.”

Smith said her project was influenced by her unstable home life growing up. “Because of that… I have the tendency of always searching for a way to exert some semblance of control,” which she does with her art.

Additionally, Smith said her “relationship to [her] own personal experience with gender and attraction has continually been something that has made [her] feel internally very different” from everyone else, which led to the basis of her final project. 

“My project for the art gallery’s BFA Senior Exhibition, Iris ‘n’ Ezra’s House, is a series of illustrations depicting a couple’s tiny misadventures in their shared house,” she said. “The things that make Iris & Ezra unconventional as a couple—at least by mainstream romance novel standards—are embraced and fully accepted by one another.”

Making art doesn’t have to be a painful, perfectionist ordeal. If anything, maybe it can be an escape from all of life’s other painful ordeals."

In her illustrations, Smith portrays Ezra as a transgender character who is disabled in a wheelchair. Iris, on the other hand, is a pregnant and sexually liberated woman, who expresses herself through her clothing by wearing cowboy boots with her underwear and never shaving her legs. Smith’s ideas of creating visual pictures of what she feels healthy home life looks like is beautifully exhibited through her artwork.

Working on this senior project has not only allowed Smith to express herself as a person, but also, in a way, allowed her to tell her life story. Throughout her time creating her pieces, she had fun being able to put her background into something physical that others can enjoy or relate to. She hopes to make others laugh through her art just as much as it made her laugh.

This project also made her come to the full realization that “making art doesn’t have to be a painful, perfectionist ordeal. If anything, maybe it can be an escape from all of life’s other painful ordeals.”