Profile: Skylar Smith

Taletha Al Badr stands motionless on the modest stage at the back of the room, her right arm extended above her head, fingers curled inward. In the background is distinctive Middle Eastern music. Before her 17 people sit, scratching charcoal pencils to sketch pads, as Skylar Smith facilitates, calling “change” every 30 seconds or so, at which point Al Badr moves into another position reminiscent of a belly dancer.

Smith, a Louisville native, artist and teacher, runs the Cabaret Life Drawing course every other Sunday at 21c Museum Hotel. She came back three years ago, having studied at two respected art institutes and traveled in India, China and South Africa. Her forte is painting and drawing. In her work, Smith tends to blend brilliant colors and common shapes writ slyly askew, leaving images that could be topographical maps for planets we’ve not yet known (see more at

“I feel like a strong part of my own art practice is to think of creative ways to tune people into the importance of art, and different definitions of what art is,” she says.