Breaking barriers, helping people with art

For Princess Smith, painting has been a big part of her life.  

"I've been painting and drawing since I was a teenager,” she said. “I always took to drawing. It helped me and that realization that helped me through having a difficult childhood. It was almost like therapy." 

Princess honed her skills by using images of 'Jet' magazines from her grandmother's table. 

"That's what started for me to specifically create images of melanated people in a positive light." 

The personable 35-year-old artist went to USF to become a counselor. 

"I want to help people. That was my goal. I wanted to save the day. Right before I finished, I decided, you know, this isn't it. And then I switch over to art." 

The switch is a big success. In 2013, Princess was recognized as Emerging Artist of the Year. "I was happy. I was extremely happy because that award came with some cash."

Princess's oil-based artwork is also displayed in the Hillsborough County Public Art Collection. 

“The purpose of it is to edify the people. Uplift me, the people and give positive representation." 

She also says her art has a purpose for the public.

"You're tapping into a deeper part of yourself and then a lot of times when that happens you can get to some maybe deep-rooted issues,” she added. "A lot of my pieces I feel that I want them to do so much. I feel that I want them to break barriers."  

Later this month, Princess is curating her second art show called "Create: The Art of Expression." She will  be showcasing local artists who are making an impact on the African American art scene in Tampa Bay. 

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