African American history, African Americans in fashion, African Americans in history, Art Smith, Art Smith Jewelry Designer, Arthur Smith, black designers, black history, black history in fashion, black history month, bold jewelry, jewelry
Arthur Smith was labeled as the first African American Jewelry Designer during the mid-20th century.
Showing artistic talent at a young age, Smith received a scholarship to Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art. After graduating in 1940, he enrolled in a jewelry-making class at NYU where he learned the basic technique of jewelry making. It wasn’t until he met Winifred Mason, that he began to focus and truly develop his true artistic skills. He begin applying the techniques he learned to his own personal creations. He soon opened his own shop in Greenwich Village in 1946, later relocating to 140 West Fourth Street which proved to be a boost to his career. It allowed Smith to market his products to higher-end shoppers, causing his creations to be in high demand. Smith was able to establish business relationships with Bloomingdale’s and other stores around the U.S. He also received coverage in Vogue, Harper’s Bazzar and he was mentioned in The New Yorker.
Smith made cufflinks for Duke Ellington which included some notes of Ellington’s 1930’s “Mood Indigo.”
In 1969, he was recognized with an exhibition at the New York’s Museum of Art and Design (then Museum of Contemporary Crafts).
Arthur “Art” Smith died in 1982 due to heart faillure.
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