Elizabeth Driscoll Smith

Elizabeth Driscoll Smith
Graduate Student


Areas of Concentration: Twentieth-century American Art, Craft, and Material Culture; the Relationship Between Race and Modernism; Histories of Folk and Self-Taught Art; Artist-Built Environments; Exhibition Histories; Curatorial Practice
Faculty Advisor: Jenni Sorkin
Committee Members: Laurie Monahan, Jeffrey Stewart (Black Studies, UCSB), Katherine Jentleson (Merrie and Dan Boone Curator of Folk and Self-Taught Art, High Museum of Art)
Dissertation: “Build/Live/Work: Artist-Built Environments and the Expanded Vernacular in the Twentieth Century”
M.A. Thesis: "Claude Cahun, Marcel Moore, and the Collapse of 'Surrealist Photography'" (Hite Art Institute, University of Louisville, completed 2016)


Elizabeth D. Smith is a Ph.D. Candidate in the History of Art & Architecture Department at the University of California Santa Barbara, specializing in American art and material culture of the twentieth century. Her dissertation, “Build/Live/Work: Artist-Built Environments and the Expanded Vernacular in the Twentieth Century,” examines four self-taught artists who built combination home and studio sites at the nexus of shifting regional constructs and major socio-political changes. At mid-century, many environment builders responded to emerging forms of mobility and their effects, simultaneously navigating the pressures of gentrification, highway and waterway expansion projects, a burgeoning folk art tourism industry, and liberation movements across the United States. Her project is supported by a 2022-2023 Predoctoral Fellowship at the Smithsonian American Art Museum and a 2023-2024 Luce/ACLS Dissertation Fellowship in American Art.

Before coming to UCSB, Elizabeth held the position of Zvi Grunberg Resident Fellow at the Bruce Museum in Connecticut, where she organized exhibitions and managed the museum’s public programs. She received her M.A. degree from the Hite Art Institute at the University of Louisville.