I am an artist and teacher, currently Associate Professor of Ceramic Art at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana.

I earned an MFA from the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University in 1996 and studied at the Kansas City Art Institute and Penn State University where I completed a BFA in ceramics in 1994.

Professionally, I am active in presenting workshops and lectures and participating in residencies, including visits to Haystack Mountain School of Craft, Watershed Center for Ceramic Arts, and the Robert McNamara Foundation. My works have been presented at The Luise Ross Gallery, New York City, and are held in numerous private and public collections, including the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City, FuLed International Ceramic Art Museum, Beijing, China, the Haan Museum, the Indiana State Museum, and the New Taipei City Yingge Ceramics Museum in Taiwan.

My works, both ceramic and drawing, are guided by improvisations that fluctuate between volumetric forms with graphic flatness. The vessels are inspired by the intersections of graffiti art, comic books, and playful organic abstraction. Generally, my ceramics forms rely on wheel-thrown and hand-built elements, most commonly presented as abstractions of cups, bottles, and vases. In this making practice, I merge these forms with my passion for Hip Hop and Jazz as locations for invention and the unexpected.  The decorative objects operate as signifiers of acculturation to aesthetic things reflecting back to us our aestheticized desires and imaginations. Motivated by these concerns and my own multi-faceted/multi- cultural background my research blends identity politics, CAD/CAM, printmaking, and drawing into a complex web of influences and passions.

Malcolm Mobutu Smith
photo credit: Owyn Vernius Johnson Smith