Jo Smail was born and educated in South Africa. In South Africa she taught in the Fine Art Department at the University of the Witwatersrand, the Johannesburg College of Art and the Johannesburg Art Foundation. She was represented by the Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg.
She and her husband Dr. Julien Davis, a scientist, left SA in 1985. This was before there was before any hint of democratic change in South Africa. He was offered a position at John’s Hopkins University in Baltimore.
She has taught at the Maryland Institute College of Art since 1988, and is currently represented by Goya Girl Contemporary Art Gallery in Baltimore and Washington, and Axis Gallery in New York. Solo shows include: 2009 Goya Contemporary, 2008 McLean Project for the Arts, Mclean, Virginia, 2007 Goya Contemporary, 2006 Axis Gallery, NY, NY. 2004 Heriard-Cimino Gallery, New Orleans, LA. 2004 Goya Contemporary, Baltimore, MD.
A book titled “Waking Up From The Inside Out” Jo Smail 1998-2009 was published by Goya Contemporary in 2009.
She has had reviews published in: The New York Times, Art in America, Art on Paper, City Paper Baltimore, Baltimore Sun and The Hudson Review among others.
She has won numerous awards. A selection includes: 2007 The Trawick Prize, 2007 Strictly Painting, 2010, 2008, 2004, 1995 & 1991 Maryland State Arts Council Individual Artist Award, 2003 Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation Creative Fellow at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, 2000 & 2002 Residency at Rochefort-en-Terre, France and in 1996 the Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant.
She is represented in private collections internationally, and in public collections including the National Gallery of South Africa, the Johannesburg Art Gallery, the Chase Manhattan Bank, the Mobil Corporation and The United States Embassy, Johannesburg.