Emily Nash Smith (1897 – 1983)
Emily Nash Smith was born in Tipton, Indiana in 1897. Educated as a schoolteacher, in 1920 she married fellow Tipton resident Thearl W. Smith. Two years later they moved to Omena, Michigan and purchased what is now known as Overlook Farm. Emily continued to teach and turned her farmhouse into a restaurant during the summer where she became well known for her Sunday chicken dinners.
Always enterprising and creative, she supplemented the farm income with her hand hooked rugs which she sold to decorators across the country. She made her own patterns and cut the stencils. Thirty women were eventually employed to help with the hooking and some of her work was exhibited at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1933. She retired from teaching in 1939 and turned the farm’s carriage shed into an antique and craft shop, which led her to an interest in painting around 1950. She began studying this new field and during winter vacations attended New College in Sarasota, Florida. .
Emily Nash Smith’s early works were mostly still life’s and landscapes but she soon began to experiment in various media and colors. Gradually the antique shop turned into an art gallery where she also taught art classes. She continued to teach late in her life. In 1983 she died at age 86, leaving a legacy of art that today is featured in many public collections including the Ford Motor Company, Michigan Bell Telephone and the Spanish Embassy in Washington, D.C. In the early 1960’s she exhibited her work with the Four Winds Gallery in Kalamazoo, Michigan. The highlight of her career however, was a one-person show at the Galerie Mouffe in Paris, France in 1975.
Biography from the exhibition pamphlet: “Emily Nash Smith, A Retrospective,” by the Omena Historical Society, Omena, Michigan, 2007.
Submitted by Edward Bentley, researcher from Lansing, Michigan