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Mark Lesly Smith, PhD

is a visual artist with gifts in language and leadership. His varied career has included fine arts administration and teaching at Southwestern University, University of Texas at Austin, and Herron School of Art & Design at Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis.


He co-founded Flatbed Press, in Austin, Texas, and co-authored Flatbed Press at 25, published by University of Texas Press in 2016, and is the author of several other books about 20th century and contemporary American art.

He is a native of the Texas Red River Valley and is a student of the collision of Southern and Western cultures that characterizes that region.

A scholar of the American artist, Robert Rauschenberg, he currently divides his time between studio work, and the writing of a novela, and a memoir tracing the profound influence of Rauschenberg on the author’s life and art.

The Mark Smith Symbol


My symbol--what printmakers call a “chop”--is initially inspired by the small, red artists’ symbols on Japanese ukiyo-e woodcuts. Contemporary artists, master printers and publishing shops now use blind-embossed chops on original prints and other works on paper.

I designed my chop to include two themes. The surrounding line is a snake eating its own tail, which is the ouroboros, an ancient emblem of regeneration, wholeness, and infinity. The interior represents the grasslands of the great plains where I grew up. These images combine the micro and the macro of life, and the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth. 

My art gallery & studio is located in Johnson City, Texas.

Recent Media & Press

An article about Johnson City, Texas, in Texas Monthly Magazine

February 23, 2023

An article about K-Space Contemporary Third Coast 2022 Biennial (Mark Smith, Juror) Top 5 in Texas, Glass Tire

August 11, 2022

An article about the Hope Suite in The Sunny Optimist, by Ann Roberts

January 28, 2021

An article about Mark L. Smith's work in Johnson City, Tx, in The Texas Wildflower

June 14, 2020

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