African American artist Howard Smith moved to Finland to escape systematic racism and lack of professional opportunities in his home country, and quickly found community in Helsinki art and design circles. Committed to making less expensive, more accessible work, Smith designed printed textiles for the Finnish firm Vallila, many of which, like this one, were exported back to the United States. His textiles became popular as home decorations, with their cheerful images of flowers, birds, and landscapes in bold patterns and bright colors.
Artwork: Howard Smith, Vallila, Textile, designed c. 1978, Los Angeles County
Museum of Art, gift of Kenneth Erwin, © Erik J. Smith & Erna Aaltonen