Painting Hope: The Inspirational Journey of Angel YA Smith, Scenic Artist and Creative Visionary

By: Dominique Heath, Columnist

Angel Yolanda Antoinette Smith, affectionately known as “The Angel”, is a remarkable North Carolinian artist and woman-to-know in the creative film industry. Known for her artistic vision and work in acclaimed films and TV shows like “Saturday Night Live,” “The Best Man: The Final Chapters,” “Severance,” and “The Equalizer”, along with the highly anticipated Spike Lee movie starring the legendary Denzel Washington–which has yet to be officially announced.

While details of her upcoming film collaboration are eagerly awaited, Angel’s true passion lies in creating commissioned art pieces, which are highly valued and cherished by many. Her artwork, including mesmerizing murals and captivating paintings, is celebrated for its ability to evoke emotions,  ignite imaginations, and celebrate African heritage. Angel credited her ability to something she was born into and nurtured by her mother’s deep love for art and creative expression.

Angel’s journey began under the guidance of her mother, who served as her first teacher and role model. Despite facing significant educational challenges early on, including issues with hyperactivity, dyslexia, and an unnurturing environment that ultimately led her to drop out of high school. Despite these challenges, Angel persevered and successfully obtained her GED. She then went on to college where she studied biology, but her love and passion for art change her focus and receive her degree in Technical Theatre, Art, and Music from NCCU. She then went on to pursue her Bachelor of Arts in Fine Arts, specializing in scene painting, from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, which gave her the solid framework and direction to build her career.

Driven by a desire to deepen her understanding of art’s profound impact on culture and society, Angel attained a Master of Arts in Culturally Responsive Education from the University of Arizona Global Campus, graduating magna cum laude.

Angel became a highly regarded scenic artist when she took on the position of charge scenic at the esteemed National Black Theatre Festival in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Due to her artistic flair, unique eye for detail, and inventive techniques, Angel impressed industry professionals and gained recognition for her work. Her success there emboldened her to make the move to New York City’s tremendously competitive artistic scene as a scenic artist where she created methods of reproducing color, texture, preparation, and aging of all surfaces for production sets. 

Her work became popular in the realm of film, television, and Broadway. Collaborating with celebrated productions including iconic movies such as “High and Low,” directed by Spike Lee, “Killing Castro,” directed by Eif Rivera, and “Guns Up.” Emmy-nominated and BET-nominated television shows such as “Severance,” “Saturday Night Live,” “The Walking Dead: Dead City,” and “The Equalizer,” among others. And critically acclaimed Broadway productions: “Mrs. Doubtfire,” “Two Can Play,” “Fences,” and “Thurgood Marshall.” 

Beyond her work in film and television, Angel’s memberships in organizations like the I.A.T.S.E. NY Local 829 Scenic Artist Union, I.A.T.S.E. Local 417 Stagehands Union, and Alpha Psi Omega National Theatre Honor Society highlight her commitment to growth and artistic excellence.

Amidst the personal challenges Angel has courageously confronted along her journey, which include the profound loss of loved ones and the management of both ADHD and multiple sclerosis, her unwavering devotion to her craft has remained a stalwart presence. These adversities have only served to stoke the fires of artistic inspiration within her, fueling her creative output with newfound depth and resilience.

Yet, Angel’s artistic talent extends far beyond the realms of scenography and studio work. Adept at exploring the abstract, her unique artistic style is deeply influenced by mixed media and African fusion. With an inherent passion for blending diverse artistic techniques, Angel masterfully combines traditional 2-D methods with the incorporation of various three-dimensional objects. Her artistry goes beyond conventional boundaries as she seamlessly integrates elements such as cloth, wood, vases, and an array of other materials into her captivating creations. Through her mixed media approach, Angel constantly challenges viewers’ perceptions, inviting them to explore the interplay between art and physical objects. Each piece becomes a captivating fusion of aesthetics and metaphorical narratives, as familiar and unfamiliar elements create a unique harmony.

As Angel continues to evolve and redefine the artistic landscape, her proficiency as a mixed media artist serves as a testament to her unwavering dedication, boundless creativity, and unrivaled ability to blend diverse artistic techniques seamlessly. Her ability to bridge the gap between two-dimensional and three-dimensional art allows her to craft narratives that are both visually captivating and deeply thought-provoking.

Drawing inspiration from African culture and seamlessly weaving it with contemporary elements, Angel’s abstract art exudes a harmonious blend of the timeless and the modern. Vibrant and captivating, her pieces are characterized by vivid hues, intricate details, and bold, fluid strokes. Often weaving in abstract representations of the human form, nature, and cultural symbology, Angel captivates viewers, beckoning them to embark on a journey of introspection and interpretation.

Angel is a visionary artist who is redefining creativity through her innovative approach and unique perspective. She pushes the boundaries of traditional artistic expression, exploring new mediums and techniques to create captivating and thought-provoking works. Angel’s ability to infuse her pieces with emotion, depth, and individuality is truly remarkable. By challenging conventional norms and embracing experimentation, she encourages others to step outside their comfort zones and explore new realms of imagination. Angel’s artistic endeavors serve as a reminder that creativity knows no limits and has the power to reshape the way we perceive and experience art. Her commitment, innovation, and unique perspective guarantee a timeless artistic legacy that will inspire many. Anticipation grows for her work in the yet-to-be-released Spike Lee and Denzel Washington movie, which promises to be an extraordinary showcase of her talent.

Angel is currently accepting commissions and invites you to inquire about personalized art pieces. With her diverse artistic abilities, she can create custom artworks that align with your unique vision and preferences. Whether it’s a traditional painting, a vibrant mural, or a three-dimensional artwork, Angel is excited to bring your ideas to life. To receive your own personal piece or inquire about past pieces, you can contact her through her email at [email protected].

You can follow her on instagram @theangelyasmith, or visit her website:

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