Voices of Courage: Local artist uses paintings to teach and heal

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SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Artist Ron Smith grew up in Belcher and creates nostalgic paintings which depict his childhood in rural Louisiana. “It’s very important to show people my roots and where I came from,” Smith shared.

He also creates contemporary pieces which incorporate symbols of the past. Some include burlap similar to the material of the bag he saw his grandmother use as she gathered cotton.

“They had those gloves that had the hands cut off at the end of them so you could pick but also you opened up the possibility of them getting pricked by the cotton boll so sometimes you would see blood,” Smith said. “That’s one of those things that stayed with me all of these years.”

His says art can bridge the gap between people of different backgrounds. “Art offers me the opportunity to talk with people who don’t look always like me, don’t always act like me, don’t always think like me,” explained Smith. “The problem I think right now from the racial divide stand point is that we have lost the ability to have conversations like we’re having right now.”

Ron says he uses those opportunities to help people realize the atrocities learned about in history class continued into recent history, perpetuating the systemic inequities we see today. He shares the fact that his father had to leave school in the sixth grade. “He started working in the cotton fields when he was eleven years old and he sharecropped on land that we would never own. We could always work it but we could never own it,” Smith said.

What Ron does own are his experiences and creative talent which he passionately uses to promote healing… so his children, grandchildren and generations to come can live in a more compassionate world.

“It’s not about me. It’s about what I leave and I want to leave this place better than I found it.”

Click here to learn more about Ron Smith and his artwork.

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