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Sally K. Smith


B. 1966

Sally K. Smith’s career path has taken many unique turns. She majored in human biology and music at Stanford and became a concert pianist. She eventually moved back to her home state of Utah, where she earned a law degree from the University of Utah. Smith claims that “fortuitously, or perhaps inevitably,” she discovered art after practicing law for a few years in Massachusetts and California, where she studied oil painting at the Cambridge Studio School in Boston and printmaking at City College in San Francisco. 

Smith’s subject matter is as diverse in content – from landscapes to figures to abstract work reminiscent of the minimalist artist Agnes Martin. Her work in Cultural Currency are examples of the latter, with crosshatch patterning made from burned U.S. dollars and Russian rubles. For her series Burn Rate, Smith sold her own shares to investors for one dollar each. She then burned the dollars to create a charcoal to apply like paint on paper or canvas. As she sold the art, the investors received a return on their investment, underscoring the conceptual intention of the project to examine not only the value of money but art as well.  

Smith’s process begins with soaking the money in water, then allowing it to dry, followed by burning it in oxygen-deprived containers. She then turns the charcoal into a paste-like substance and applies it using blending stumps, various templates, and rulers. Occasionally, hints of copper will shine through the U.S. bill charcoal, inspiring the use of gold sumi ink in her Burn Rate series. Although quite abstract, the pattering also brings to mind a bar code, the weave of a dollar bill, or even a stack of dollar bills.

Smith’s work can be found in art collections worldwide, including the Hanjin Shipping Company, Seoul, Korea, and private collections in Berlin, Cologne, Zurich, Boston, and the San Francisco Bay Area.


Myrtle Beach’s Franklin G. Burroughs-Simeon B. Chapin Art Museum strives to be one of the finest visual arts museums in the Carolinas. With 11 galleries that change throughout the year, Myrtle Beach’s only art museum offers exhibitions featuring paintings, textiles, sculpture, photography, video, ceramics, assemblage, collage and more. A visit to the Art Museum’s exhibitions can be enhanced by its lively programming, including artist receptions, tours, lectures, workshops and classes for both adults and children.