Smith was born in Moorestown, New Jersey. In 1949 he joined the U.S. Army and was stationed in Japan, Korea and Germany. He was promoted to the rank of sergeant in 1950 and was honorably discharged in 1958.
In 1960 he enrolled at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia and became a fellow in 1962. That year he made a trip to Finland as a member of the Young America Presents group and remained there, having his first private exhibition in Helsinki in 1963. He worked for a short time as an assistant to Kaj Franck at the Institute of Applied Fine Arts in Helsinki.
Smith exhibited widely in Finland in the 1960s and 1970s and also completed a number of large commissions for murals. During this time he also worked for Vallila Interiors, producing textile designs for that company. He also did enamel work for Wärtsilä.
In 1976 he moved back to the United States, where he stayed until 1984. On returning to Finland, he became a visiting artist at the Arabia ceramics factory and designed for them from 1986-1995.
In 1988 he and ceramist Erna Aaltonen formed Arteos Studio. They moved to Fiskars near Helsinki in 1996, where they continue to live today. Smith's versatile work has been done in almost every medium─paper, wood, textiles, enamel, metal, ceramics and glass. He has produced paintings, sculptures, prints, reliefs in paper and appliqué.
In 2008 the U.S. Embassy in Finland hosted a reception to honor Smith's career. That same year, an exhibition entitled Howard Smith─Party 45. Smith was awarded the State Design Prize in 2001 in recognition of his achievements as a ceramist. His work is found in the collections of the New York Museum of Modern Art , the Museum of African-American Art in Los Angeles, the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. and the Design Museum in Helsinki. His life is the subject of a biography which was edited by the architect Jussi Suomala.
His most recent exhibition, Bridge, ran from February through April of 2013, in celebration of his 85th birthday.
From galeriebesson.co.uk, finland.usembassy.gov, onoma.org and modish.net
|Textile design for Vallila|
|Blue Iris textile design|
etsy.com - Zentrix
|Peru textile design|
etsy.com - Zentrix
|Horseman textile design|
|Birds for Arabia|
|Howard Smith in his sculpture garden|
|Howard Smith with Erna Aaltonen (l) and Ambassador Marilyn Ware (r)|