Tieshka K. Smith is a Philadelphia-based photographer and content creator. She uses as many tools at her disposal to challenge and disrupt the status quo. Her community-based artistic practice interrogates racism and classism in place making and civic identity formation, how neighborhood-level memories and values are shaped, and the ways in which the marginalization of people and ideas adversely affects American life and culture.
Her photographs have been featured online, in print, and in galleries, museums and other community spaces here on the East Coast and in the Midwest. Most recently, Smith’s work was part of a group exhibition on art and activism organized by the African American Museum of Philadelphia entitled, “Collective Conscious: The Art of Social Change” during the summer of 2018.
Since 2012, Smith has also been commissioned by Next City, the Oak Park Public Library, the Wyck House and Garden in Germantown, and Every Zip Philadelphia (a community storytelling collaboration between WHYY and Finding America) to create bodies of work that engaged communities around the contentious issues of gentrification and displacement.
A Philadelphia Assembled collaborating artist, she was commissioned by the Philadelphia Museum of Art to create a photo essay entitled “Boundaries.Battlegrounds.Blessings” and a soundscape entitled “Taking My Stake Out Of The Ground” (excerpts from a 14-episode podcast series of the same name) critiquing gentrification and displacement in the Olde Kensington neighborhood. In 2017, this work was featured in the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s groundbreaking art and civic engagement group exhibition entitled “Philadelphia Assembled.”
In 2017 and 2018, she was commissioned by the Evansville-Vanderburgh Public Library in Evansville, Indiana to examine the impacts of gentrification on a midsized Midwestern city. Among other things, she documented the changes to the built environment brought on redevelopment and made portraits of residents affected by the changes. The commissions resulted in two bodies of work: “Making Way for Change” (2017) and “We Still Here/What’s Good In My Hood” (2018).
She is the creator of the #RacismIsASickness art installation and community engagement project that traveled to three Philadelphia venues (including the Community College of Philadelphia) in 2016. #RacismIsASickness began as a critique of police brutality and the financial impact that it has on cities. It has since evolved into an ongoing online conversation about the insidiousness and damaging effects of racism on post-modern American life and its cultural, political and educational institutions.
A Chicago native, Smith is a graduate of Northwestern University and the Keller Graduate School of Management of DeVry University. Links to her work and social media can be found at her website: http://tieshkasmith.com.