Annie Smith headshot

Annie Smith (1940-2007)

Professor Emerita

Studio Art (Drawing)
visual artist, writer, specialist in art education (B.A. Wellesley College, M.F.A., M.A. Mills College/University of California, Berkeley, Ph.D. University of Toronto)


Annie Smith was instrumental in the development and coordination of the Art and Art History Program, a unique collaboration between a University and a College of art and technology. Her interests in both studio and art history guided her teaching, writing, speaking, and administrative work in the visual arts. These activities earned her an international reputation with audiences in the United States, Scotland, Germany, Hong Kong, Spain, Taiwan, and Brazil. Since 1990, she has been recognized for her contributions to art education, with over ten awards for her creative teaching style, lectures, and publications.

 “I am a firm believer in an experiential approach to learning: it is the actual experience, the active involvement, the creative energy and commitment given to any situation that leads one to meaningful outcomes. Learning is active, not passive. I think of responsibility as the ability to respond; and, together with participants in the learning process, it is the sensitivity to and sense-ability for such issues at hand that leads to knowledge, growth, and the ideals aspired to by all involved - educators and ‘educatees’ alike”. Annie Smith (1940-2007)

Professor Emeritus Nomination For Annie Smith

January 2006

The Annie Smith Arts Centre, home to the Art and Art History Program's painting and sculpture departments, is named in honour of Professor Annie Smith, who guided the Art and Art History Program through a period of remarkable growth and transformation.

Professor Smith assumed the position of Art and Art History Program Coordinator in 1976. Over the next six years, she reassessed the existing generalist three-year degree program in art education and developed the present professional fine art focus of the Art and Art History Major (three-year) and Specialist (four-year) degree program. In 1982, for the first time, the program offered its students fourth-year courses in studio and art history. The expansion of the program considerably extended the career options of the graduates.

Previously, the program's goals were to train prospective secondary school art teachers; under the expanded program offerings, students could still go on to complete their teaching certification and work as secondary school art teachers, as well as go on to work in the broad arena of contemporary visual arts. An ever-increasing number of our graduates are accepted into Canadian and international MFA and MA programs, and our graduates now work as professional artists, museum, public, and private gallery directors, curators, gallery educators, development officers, college and university professors.

Photo(left): Annie Smith and third-year student Heather Laxdal at the 1989 A&AH Awards Event

In addition to Professor Smith's work as a program coordinator, she has been recognized both within and outside the college as a leading educator. In 1983/84, Professor Smith served as a member of the Advisory Committee for the Ontario Ministry of Education, Visual Arts Division, and she helped rewrite the guidelines for teaching art from grade seven through to Ontario Academic Credits. Subsequently, she was appointed to the Ontario Council of Universities, which was struck to evaluate and validate the "Visual Arts Guidelines" for advanced-level study in grade ten through to Ontario Academic Credits. In 1991/92, Professor Smith was invited to sit on the college-wide Program Review Committee, chaired by the V.P. Academic, Catherine Henderson. At the same time, Professor Smith served on the 1991/92 provincially mandated Internal Review (curriculum) of the Ontario College of Art (now the Ontario College of Art and Design) with professors from the University of Windsor and Ryerson.

Getting Into Art History
Photo(right): Annie Smith, Getting Into ART HISTORY, published by Barn Press, Toronto, 1993

Professor Smith published nationally and internationally on education in refereed academic journals, and she maintained a truly prodigious lecture schedule at academic conferences, again, in Canada and abroad. Her achievements in the intersecting fields of education, studio practice and art history have been recognized in many awards: The President's Award of Excellence, Sheridan College (1990); The National Award for Excellence in Teaching, National (United States) Institute for Staff and Organizational Development (1991); Landsdowne Arts Scholar, University of Victoria (1991); Charles Dudley Gaitskill Outstanding Art Educator, Canadian Society of Education through Art (1991); and Art Historian in Residence, Bishop Carroll School for the Arts (1992). In 1992, Barn Press published Professor Smith's classroom art projects handbook, Getting into Art History, and in 1997 a translated French adaptation was published, Vivre l'histoire de l'art (Montreal, 1997). In 2004, Second Story Press published Bearing Up with Cancer, an illustrated account of Professor Smith's 20-year struggle with cancer.

Smith Bearing up with Cancer
Photo (left): Annie Smith, Bearing Up with Cancer, published by Second Story Press, Toronto, 2004

Professor Smith's doctoral thesis and her many subsequent publications investigate the history of the presentation of art and art history, and suggest new models for its instruction at all levels - from primary school to university. In her speaking engagements, in Canada, South America, and Europe, Professor Smith discussed her ideas on the evolution of art and art history in relation to her involvement in the joint A&AH program.

Professor Smith's ardent advocacy of Art and Art History was based on her searching questioning of both the discipline and our approach to it. With her customary enthusiasm and directness, Professor Smith consistently challenged her students and the faculty to succeed: this earned Professor Smith great affection and respect among our alumni.

Sadly, Professor Annie Smith passed away in October of 2007 after a long and courageous battle with Cancer. As a woman, educator, writer and virtual program founder, Professor Smith has left a great legacy and she continues to be a model for our students and faculty to look up to.