Martinsville, Virginia


Free Talk Answers Age-Old Question, “Why is that Art?”

It’s an age-old question: “Why is that Art?” Emily Smith, executive director of 1708 Gallery in Richmond, Virginia, will answer this and other questions, like what is an abstract painting “of,” at a free art talk on Thursday, March 29 from 7 – 8 p.m. at Piedmont Arts.

Using works from the permanent collection of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Smith will lead guests through a pictorial history of modern art and detail why the changes that occurred during the period – chiefly that art became more abstract – were not arbitrary, but rather developed in response to technological, social and political changes of the time.

“We are excited to welcome Emily back to Piedmont Arts,” said Executive Director Heidi Pinkston. “As the museum’s former director of exhibitions, the community knows her well. Her knowledge of modern and contemporary art is unparalleled.” 

Prior to 1708, Smith was the Curatorial Fellow in Modern and Contemporary Art at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts where she worked from 2007 until 2010. Projects at VMFA include the exhibitions, The Ludwig and Rosy Fischer Collection of German Expressionist Art; Matisse, Picasso, and Modern Art in Paris; and Labor and Leisure: Works by African American Artists in the VMFA Permanent Collections. Prior to VMFA, she was Director of Exhibitions at Piedmont Arts (2004–2007) and the Assistant Director at Second Street Gallery, Charlottesville, Virginia (2003–2004). Smith was an adjunct faculty member in art history at Patrick Henry Community College and was a critic for a Charlottesville weekly paper. She received a MA in Art History from the University of Virginia in 2002. 

"Why is that Art?" is admission free. Complimentary refreshments will be available. Please RSVP attendance to 276.632.3221 or online at