Ashley Smart

I have always liked to observe things and to figure them out.  I think that is why I have spent so much of my life pursuing art and science. I feel that both art and science let me explore the world and examine the beautiful complexity of nature.  I get to figure things out and share the wonder if it all.

In my art, I like to integrate the details into a meaningful image or idea. I primarily work in pen and watercolor. Early on I was trained as a photographer and I also like to come back to that media occasionally. I like the subtle ways that different media change the feel of my work.

In 2017, I was able to work with a botanist, Tom Daniel, at the California Academy of Sciences to illustrate a few species of Acanthaceae. This was a really extraordinary chance to combine science and art directly. The illustrations are intended to be used for later identification of the species and were created using dried and pressed herbarium specimens as references. The finished plates can be seen here.

I am also a scientist currently doing a postdoctoral fellowship at Stanford University after getting my PhD at UCSF in neuroscience. If you are interested in hearing more about my graduate work, I participated in a three-minute thesis competition where we summarize our years of research in three minutes. The talk is called Death by Light.



Recent Exhibitions

"Natural Wonders" San Francisco Women Artists Gallery (647 Irving St., SF, CA); April 4th-May 6th, 2017

"UCSF Day of Discovery" UCSF Library (530 Parnassus Ave., SF, CA); April 12th, 2017


Progenitor Art and Literary Journal (2018) —also included online audio recording about the inspiration for my “Enchanted Forest” painting

UCSF Magazine “Brainy Bridge” (Winter 2018) p. 48

Published Interview

The Art and Science of Observation: A Conversation with Alumna Ashley Smart (2018) UCSF Graduate Division News

Photograph by Bryan Seybold

Photograph by Bryan Seybold

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.