Sarah E. K. Smith (BFA '06)

Portrait of Sarah Smith.


Curator of Contemporary Art, Agnes Etherington Art Centre

My experience in the BFA program has been pivotal to my current position as a curator of contemporary art. Foremost, my studio degree played a significant role in developing my knowledge of contemporary art practice. During the BFA program I gained wide experience in printmaking, sculpture (including experience with wood, metal and stone), audio and video work. I also benefitted from the small size of the BFA program, which allowed me to connect with my instructors and classmates. The faculty was incredibly motivating, providing essential instruction in materials, methods and conceptual approaches to art making. Equally important were the talented group of artists who comprised my classmates— their camaraderie and feedback in the studio was essential to my artistic development. My BFA experience also helped me to advance my understanding of contemporary art. For example, during my degree I found the Koerner Artist in Residence Program immensely valuable, as it exposed me to artists including Rebecca Belmore, Vera Frenkel and Ed Pien. Other key opportunities included travel to New York and North Adams, Massachusetts. At the same time, I built my gallery experience working as a docent and completing an internship credit at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre. This, and summer employment at the National Gallery of Canada, sparked my interest in curatorial practice. After completing my BFA in 2006, I began graduate studies in art history, gaining my MA in 2008 and PhD in 2013. During this time, I took a break from producing my own work and focused on writing, curating and teaching, travelling across North America and Europe for coursework, research and to participate in academic conferences. This September, I was thrilled to take on the role of Curator of Contemporary Art at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre—an institution that was very important to me during my studio degree. I am excited to have the chance to work with current BFA students during this academic year and hope to encourage them to make the most of the Art Centre’s contemporary programming as a valuable resource and a complement to the rich BFA program.