Erin Smith Glenn is an associate professor of art, advisor of the Visual Arts Club, former vice president of the board for the Dayton Society of Artists, and proud alum of Central State University, Ohio’s only public HBCU. She holds an M.F.A. from the University of Cincinnati with a concentration in 2D drawing and painting, working in a variety of media and mixed media. Erin has exhibited works in Ohio, Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri, Louisiana, Texas, Virginia and Illinois, respectfully, including numerous solo exhibitions. Recently, she was awarded Best in Show for her 4’x8’ painting in the “New Woman” art exhibit hosted collaboratively by the Pendleton Arts Center and the Clifton Cultural Arts Center, Cincinnati OH. Upon completion of the new CCAC building, a gallery in honor of Elizabeth Nourse (1859-1938) will be housed within the new CCAC. As a feature included in the Best in Show prize package, Erin as the inaugural exhibiting artist in this venue and has been invited to spend 3 months creating new work in Cincinnati's only home established by Frank Lloyd Wright. The Elizabeth Nourse gallery will be dedicated primarily to women artists and is due to open early 2024.

Among Erin’s lifelong pursuits is to continually practice her artwork and overall creative experiences, vowing never to stop “growing as an artist and individual”, while always striving to instill this concept in her students and her three children, as she does within herself. The award stated above has already begun to provide students with opportunities to engross themselves on the art scene. Erin proudly stands on the shoulders of many while she strives to be that same catalyst for others.

Follow the gravitational pull within you that leads to a life of consistent growth and development through the pursuant act of creative imagination.

What inspired your focus on Black HAIRitage and adornment in your art?

For as long as I can remember, I've been fascinated with hair and hair culture. I keenly recall moments from childhood where I would pick my beads and barrettes to match my outfits, styles to match my evolving and rebellious stance in society, and even transitioning from natural to straight hair to natural again. Each change in styles meant a change in me. So, it made sense to me one day, after looking over at my looming stack of classic Black hair and style magazines, that I would focus on the impact of Black hair in society and even societal views on Black...but mostly the other way around :)

How does leaving traces of your process in your artwork influence the final piece?

Because I am also a veteran educator, I like to see this side of myself even in my personal work. So, I refer to my work that leaves traces of previous stages as "Living Lectures": a final product revealing many stages in order to influence the studious viewer. I love the energy of the so-called incomplete or layered studies. It makes sure that even when the work is completed and still, it is also displaying a kind of still movement.

How do you balance teaching and your personal art work?

By bringing my work into the classroom lol. I have had no other choice but to work on pieces for upcoming exhibits for my students to see. As a mother of 3, I don't always get the space and opportunity at home, so I make use of it to the best of my ability. This also serves my students greatly, as they get to witness an active professional who also happens to be their professor. It's a win-win for us all :)

What themes are you exploring for the inaugural exhibition at the Elizabeth Nourse gallery?

HAIRitage continued, but also mental health in the Black and underserved communities. I want to merge my love of nature with the urgency of Black people to see nature and meditative practices as medicine. So, think of a woman having her hair braided while sitting on a park bench on a lovely day in a shaded area; imagine a little boy in the Lotus position, enjoying the birds singing around him; picture a group of people observing, participating and caring for nature while caring for themselves. I want to begin to introduce hair health and not just hair styles in my HAIRitage theme, as this also closely relates to mental health. This is a start to the direction I want to take in my work.

Who are your key influences, and how do you hope to inspire future artists?

My goodness, who isn't...Abner Cope and LeRoy Porter, my mentors who taught me how to be a great artist AND a great person; Dwayne Daniel, former professor now colleague, and James Pate, both multi-award winning visual engineers in their own right; Carrie Mae Weems, Amy Sherald, Honey Rosales, Augusta Savage, Faith Ringgold and Liz Catlett for their absolute audacity to be seen and heard through their tenacious and creative spirits; I am inspired by my children and my best works encompass them; I am inspired by my ancestors and I often emulate their style and character through my figures; I am inspired by nature, activism, advocacy, and even by the things that piss me off. You'll know I'm inspired because the drive follows close behind to get the message onto the canvas.

What advice would you give to young artists about maintaining their unique vision in art?

Simple: to thine self be true