Born in 1929 in St. Louis, Missouri, Shirley Thomson-Smith's art has been deeply and profoundly influenced by the experience of living in Durango, Colorado and traveling through New Mexico. There she observed the powerful tradition of Native Americans and was particularly drawn to the strength, character and symbolic role of Native American women.
Of the Navajo women, who Smith got to know and respect, she has this to say, "I was fascinated by those women. Their message was a non-verbal transmission of thought, feeling and strength. I've always admired Mexican, African and Indian art. My figures are a synthesis of all these, particularly the strength and sturdiness inherent in Mexican and Native American women."
Smith's sculptures are boldly modern works, highly influenced by her understanding of early 20th century American and European art, abstract form and shape not hindered by surface decoration. These powerful style icons of individual women or sympathetic groups radiate great sensitivity, love and a magic authority because of their presence and simplicity.
Smith studied art at the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma City University. She is a lifetime member of the Oklahoma Sculptor Society, National Academy of Western Art, associate member of the National Sculpture Society and founding member of American Women Artists of the West.
Her work is represented in major galleries and collections across America, and she is a participant and award winner of both national and regional competitions. Her most recent honors and awards include a monumental sculpture for Sedona Cancer Medical Center, Sedona, Arizona; Silver Medal in Sculpture, National Academy of Western Art, Oklahoma City; Two sculptures Permanent Collection, Art of the avenues, Wenatchee, Washington; Prix de West Invitational, National Cowboy Hall of Fame, Oklahoma City; Grand Rapids, Michigan, Botanical Gardens, life-sized Penguins; Meijer Gardens Permanent Collection, life-sized Panda Bear, Grand Rapids, Michigan; Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, Permanent Collection, Oklahoma City; American women Artists, National Wildlife Art Museum, Jackson, Wyoming; Best of Show and 3rd Place, Oklahoma Sculpture Society; first Place, Oklahoma Sculpture Society Winter Show, Guthrie, Oklahoma; American Women Artists in Sorrento, Italy; and 2001 Gilcrease Rendezvous Show, Gilcrease Museum, Tulsa, Oklahoma.
She has been featured in many publications, including Southwest Art, Southwest Profile Magazine, Travel Hose Magazine, Santa Fe, New Mexico, Fine Art Collector, Art Talk, Art of the West, Focus Santa Fe, Wildlife Art, and Gilcrease Museum Rendezvous 2001 publication.