Leslie Smith III wins Joan Mitchell Fellowship


UW–Madison’s Leslie Smith III, a professor in the School of Education’s Art Department, is a recipient of a 2022 Joan Mitchell Fellowship from the Joan Mitchell Foundation.

Leslie Smith III
Leslie Smith III

The fellowship annually awards 15 artists working in the evolving fields of painting and sculpture with $60,000 each in unrestricted funds, distributed over a five-year period. In addition to the monetary award, Fellows are invited to participate in one-on-one professional practice consultations; convenings that cultivate a peer learning community; and programs that focus on personal finance, legacy planning, and thought leadership, among other opportunities.

“We are excited to welcome the next cohort of Joan Mitchell Fellows, a group whose life experiences and work capture an incredible spectrum of creative visions, artistic approaches, and career stages,” says Christa Blatchford, executive director at the Joan Mitchell Foundation. “This Fellowship upholds the basic but profound belief that multi-year financial support can be transformative for artists, and that increased access to individuals, resources, and practical tools can enrich their practices over time.”

Smith describes himself as an “African American abstractionist.” In a statement about his work, he says, “I create paintings that provoke perceived experiences. I am interested in the conscious effort to alter personal perception, to shift how something foreign or different is seen. My paintings explore themes of compatibility, transparency, resentment, and opaqueness as characteristics that influence how we interact with people.”

Learn more in this announcement of the fellowship winners and in this profile about Smith.

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