Maxine Smith grew up in New York City, finding inspiration in the people riding the city's buses and subways. The faces of everyday people have now found their way into her intimate, painterly portraits. Smith describes herself as an observer, whose interest in faces from a young age led her to explore their representation in her art. "It fascinated me, and still does, that in this over-populated world we live in, there are no two faces alike," Smith says. "Very similar perhaps, but not identical." Smith’s work often deals with representations of strangers, posed in unusual positions and captured in intimate close up with bold, vibrant uses of color.
“The chances are I will never see that person again, a stranger who on canvas will linger,” Smith says of her subjects. She typically eschews the stereotypically beautiful in favor of more nuance, character, and life experience in a person’s visage. “What is behind the smile, the glance, the body language?” she asks. “It is that story that comes alive for me.”