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Pamela Colman Smith – Life and Work

Pamela Colman Smith (16 February 1878 – 18 September 1951), also nicknamed Pixie, was a British artist, illustrator, writer and occultist.

She is best known for illustrating the Waite-Smith deck of divinatory tarot cards (also called the Rider-Waite or the Rider-Waite-Smith deck) for Arthur Edward Waite.

To honor her life and work, Melissa Staiger and Colleen Lynch have curated an exhibition about her at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York, where she had enrolled in 1893, at the age of 15.

Pamela Colman Smith – Life and Work

at Pratt Institute Libraries, Brooklyn Campus

January 31, 2019 – April 4, 2019
Open during library hours

Opening reception and tarot reading on
January 31, 2019 – 5:00 – 8:00 pm

Pamela Colman Smith, renowned for illustrating the Rider-Waite-Smith tarot deck, began her artistic career in 1893 as a student at the newly founded Pratt Institute. Her artistic output in her brief but successful career included paintings, illustrations, set and costume design for theater, a literary magazine, and books of folklore. Smith moved in bohemian circles both in New York and London, exhibiting at Alfred Stieglitz’s Gallery 291, the first non-photographer to do so, and collaborating with W.B. Yeats, Bram Stoker, and the celebrated actress Ellen Terry.

This exhibition presents an overview of Smith’s life and multi-faceted career, showing books, prints, reproductions of illustrations and paintings, and tarot decks, along with photographs of her illustrious family and friends. Telling her story and providing a context for her work, this exhibit shows how her style, archetypal subject matter, and interest in ancient spiritual traditions profoundly influenced her drawings for one of the most popular tarot decks in use, the Rider-Waite-Smith tarot.

Linking Smith’s time to now, Pratt alumni Emi Brady ‘11, David Palladini ‘64, Jen May ‘07 and Phil Williamston ‘69, will have tarot decks on display to showcase contemporary variations on the traditional deck.

This exhibition is co-curated by Pratt alumni Colleen Lynch ‘05 and Melissa Staiger ‘03.

On View: January 31, 2019 – April 4, 2019, open during Library hours
Opening reception and tarot reading on January 31st, 5:00 – 8:00 pm

Pratt Institute Libraries – Brooklyn Campus, 200 Willoughby Avenue, enter at the corner of DeKalb Avenue and Hall Street/St. James Place.

For Pratt Institute Libraries information and hours of operation see