Shawn Smith was born in 1972 in Dallas, TX where he attended Arts Magnet High School and Brookhaven College before graduating from Washington University in St. Louis, MO with a BFA in Printmaking in 1995. Smith received his MFA in Sculpture from the California College of the Arts in San Francisco in 2005. He has received artist-in-residencies from the Kala Art Institute in Berkeley, CA and the Cite Internationale des Arts in Paris, France. In 1996, Smith was a recipient of the Clare Hart DeGolyer grant from the Dallas Museum of Art. Smith’s work has been exhibited at Hå Gamle Prestegard, National Art and Culture Center of Norway, Gallery Mark Hachem (Paris, France), Kuntsi Museum of Modern Art, (Vaasa, Finland), and throughout the United States including the Austin Museum of Art, Arthouse at the Jones Center (Austin), Galveston Art Center, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (San Francisco), Southern Exposure (San Francisco), Grand Rapids Art Museum, Oakland Arts Museum, Berkeley Art Center, Richmond Art Center, di Rosa Art and Nature Preserve (Napa), Dean Lesher Center for the Arts (California), Holter Museum of Art (Montana), Northwest Art Center (North Dakota), Lawndale Art Center (Houston), Wichita Falls Museum of Art (Texas), the Armory Art Center (Florida), Scion Installation Center (Los Angeles), the Grace Museum (Abilene, TX), Artisphere (Arlington, VA), and the McKinney Avenue Contemporary (Dallas), among others.
In 2006, Smith was commissioned to create a monumental public sculpture in San Francisco, CA. In 2017, he was commissioned to create Convergence, consisting of 100 sculptures for the new NYPL Westchester Square Library in the Bronx, for which he received a 2018 NYC Excellence in Design Award from the New York Public Design Commission. In July 2019, he installed Burning Bright, a 71 foot long powder-coated steel panther at Fire Station 42 in Fort Worth, Texas.
In addition to his public art works, Smith has received commissions to create works for many private and corporate clients including Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Adobe, Fidelity Investments, Boston Consulting Group, W Hotels, Frost Bank, and Wired Magazine-UK, among others. His work is in the permanent collection at the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Renwick Gallery in Washington DC, the National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, the Explora Science Museum in Albuquerque, NM, and the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas.