About Dionne Benjamin-Smith
Dionne M.R.C. Benjamin-Smith was born in Nassau, The Bahamas in 1970, and studied under Stan Burnside and Denis Knight at The College of The Bahamas where she received an AA in Fine Art in 1986. In 1991, she went on to earn a BFA in Graphic Design from the Rhode Island School of Design where she graduated with honors. Benjamin-Smithhas been a professional graphic designer and printmaker since graduating; married to Jolyon Smith, also an artist, they own and operate Smith & benjamin Art & Design together, a graphic design firm located in Nassau, The Bahamas. They also market and promote online Bahamian art and cultural events locally and internationally through their Bahamian Arts & Culture Marketing Service.n. Benjamin-Smith’s artwork has been discussed in many critical artjournals and publications, and has been shown in numerous exhibitions in The Bahamas and around the world including The United States, Germany and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
“Beauty for Ashes” speaks to altered appearances, identity, shame and to the subtle (and not so subtle) self hatred indoctrination that black women have ingested for generations through modern advertising. In past work, I have incorporated altered images of consumer products to underscore the commentary. In “Beauty for Ashes”, I plan to do the same by integrating the labels of “beauty” products black women commonly use to alter their appearances to what they believe is more beautiful. The series consists of four images that resemble the royal face cards found in a deck of playing cards. Each image will show the ideal vs. the perceived – the ideal of a positive, Eurocentric image at the top of the space vs. the perception of a negative, Afrocentric image reversed and flipped to the bottom of the space. A “beauty” product label is splashed across the centre, delineating the ideal from the perceived. Words describing each state of being are superimposed over the images. The final part of each piece is the placement of a line drawing of a tropical plant. The top part of the plant blooms in the ideal positive space and the roots of the plant spread out into the perceived negative space, symbolizing that their ideal of beauty is rooted in a skewed perception of who they are.
We are Jolyon Smith and Dionne Benjamin-Smith, a husband and wife team who always wanted to work together creatively. After thirteen years in the work force where we garnered invaluable character- and skills-building experiences, we both felt it was time to join our unique talents together and bring into existence an idea long in the making. Our dream of a more personal and unique art & design business was the birth of SMITH+BENJAMIN. With over 25 years of combined creative experience, we offer a perfect balance of diverse ideas, extraordinary talents and design fundamentals for every project we take on.