Seth Smith is a Kansas City artist who creates artworks with distinct, Mid Century Modern elements to showcase nostalgic, dreamlike places where viewers “can escape.” Seth’s work has a variety of Mid Century Modern and post-war era influences, creating works of art that reveal these influences in a unique way. His art represent moments and places captured in a striking, yet timeless fashion that anyone with a love for Mid Century Modern will instantly recognize.
Smith is from Wichita, Kansas, and attended the University of Kansas where he graduated in 2003 with a degree in painting and printmaking. Seth now lives and works in Kansas City, creating a wide range of artworks – from abstract to representational. Smith’s artworks have been featured at multiple art world events across the globe and are a part of a number of different permanent collections.
Smith said that his Mid Century Modern influences come from his ’80’s childhood, where he remembers his grandparent’s Mid-Century home and seeing photos of people traveling to Mid Century meccas such as Palm Springs, California. At the time, Mid-Century Modern design and architecture weren’t revered and admired in the same way they are today – and to some degree were even taken for granted, but they definitely left a mark on Smith, his personality and his art.
When Smith’s artwork began focusing more on subject matter than technique around 10 years ago, he said he gravitated toward the visual elements that he remembered from his childhood. He was inspired by artists of the ’40s and 50s, like Edward Hopper, and their use of light, color, and shadow to create striking scenes of stillness and solitude. Smith said he saw this post-war trend of repetitive, yet meditative clean lines in art and architecture as a calming way to respond to the chaos of the previous decade. Today this visual language has become an essential part of his own contemporary works.
Smith says its the multi-faceted visual influences experienced throughout his younger life that have informed his artwork. He uses his art to depict a world that is almost foreign, yet comforting and relatable. Smith noted, “People are comforted by things of the past and a sense of calmness,” and this is what Smith interprets and translates in his paintings.
A notable aspect of Mid-Century Modern design that Smith has come to love is the community that has formed around it. Whether that be through a specific element of Mid Century Modern – like home design, furniture of the era, or its art; or through the entire style of the movement as a whole.
Smith displays his works in galleries and at art fairs in and around the Kansas City area, giving him the opportunity to connect with others who are enthusiasts of Mid Century Modern. In fact, that’s how he met Ashley and Sarah Kendrick!