News 88.9 KNPR
Classical 89.7 KCNV

member station


'Making Miniature Moms': Artist Lance Smith Honors His Mother


Photo credit: Kristy Totten

A painting by Las Vegas arist Lance Smith. Smith's show at the Winchester Cultural Center is dedicated to the memory of his mother.

Last year we talked to Lance Smith when one of his artworks was vandalized.

It was a utility box painting and it was vandalized in a curious way — it was painted over in beige to look “official.”

That painting has been restored, and the artist is back this time with better news: He has a new exhibition at the Winchester Cultural Center.

It's called "For Always" and it's about his mother, whom he lost at age 10.


Tell us about your mother:

Her passing away had a lot to do with me diving into artistic expression. So, it was very important for me, for the first time to have a solo exhibit to be able to honor her.

What did it feel like as a 10-year-old to lose your mom? And how did that manifest itself in art?

It was a big shock. Beyond it being a big shock, it was a re-adjustment – a big one. I needed a way to express myself. In middle school, I found I had that inclination to makes things and it was a way for me to not only give me something to focus on… when you go through a loss there is a mourning and then there is a destructive side and even at 10 years old I was thankfully smart enough to understand that there is that part of it, but then to circumvent those kinds of energies towards making things.

Support comes from

What was your relationship before her death?

I was a spoiled brat. I have two older brothers both of [whom] are in their 40s. So I was the baby, baby. When I came around, I was the perfect little beaming restart. I got to know her in a completely different way that my brothers.

How did you explore your relationship with your mother in this show?

I’m 28 and she passed when I was 10 so there is a big gap there. I’m basically just rehashing those memories and I’m exploring them through the special things that I remember, specifically through adornment.

In the show, there are multiple paintings of her in earrings – really, really glowing shining indicator there. Just looking for those things that remind me of her whether it was the way her hair would fall, her neck, the kind of physicality’s of your mother that a lot of us grow akin to.

Photo credit: Kristy Totten

A lot of the artwork in this show is related to her things. Did you notice these things before your mother died and how long did it take afterwards to gather her things?

I will always have those memories but through creating the show, looking through the images that I used to make the paintings and drawings in the show, I was rehashing them and I was digging a little deeper and I was looking for my connective thread… really in this show it is a love letter to my mother and also I was looking for her essence. I was digging at the kind of core of what I saw her to be, and what I kind of wished to keep of her.

Photo credit: Kristy Totten

You are in this show. There is a painting of you and your mother is reaching down to pick you up. Tell us about that?

That was another photo that I have, but it’s different. The rest of the show I really wanted it to kind of be, you looking in. And that piece in particular, both of us are both looking out at the viewer and so it’s something different.

I was physically there for that, at that time, but the only memory I have of it is through the photograph. That piece is really the beginning...and I really wanted it there as the core to kind of branch out.

I make things because I’m visually driven and kind of emotionally driven to make them, and driven to make them beautiful in any way I can. Whatever I’m rendering I want them to have a sort of beauty to it. I want you to have to reconcile with it. I want you to have to look at it and then take what you will from it.

I’m finding a connective thread. I have a really good friend that said, ‘you making miniature moms. You’re manifesting moms, aunts, these feminine figures.' I’m just very grateful. This is just a very, very personal show for me and I’m just happy that anyone that can go away from it and find any kind of joy or solace or sadness even, but just find something there that makes it all worth it.

What has been your growth?

That a lot of us share a lot of the same struggles. The love that we’ve been given these kind of maternal figures is almost universal and it is something to recognize.

I learned that I’m making things and no matter what anybody says the artistic practice is very selfish. But if you’re lucky enough, you can actually make things that other people can find something in. That’s what I’m learning, that the work I make I’m making but it’s not just for me.

Photo credit: Kristy Totten

Read Desert Companion's review of Smith's show.


Lance Smith, artist

You won’t find a paywall here. Come as often as you like — we’re not counting. You’ve found a like-minded tribe that cherishes what a free press stands for.  If you can spend another couple of minutes making a pledge of as little as $5, you’ll feel like a superhero defending democracy for less than the cost of a month of Netflix.

More Stories

KNPR's State of Nevada
KNPR's State of Nevada