Born in 1929 in St. Louis, Missouri, Shirley Thomson-Smith's art has been deeply and profoundly influenced by the experience of living in Durango, Colorado and traveling through New Mexico. There Shirley Thomson-Smith observed the powerful tradition of Native Americans and was particularly drawn to the strength, character and symbolic role of Native American women. Of the Navajo women, who Shirley Thomson-Smith got to know and respect, she has this to say: "I was fascinated by those women. Their message was a non-verbal transmission of thought, feeling and strength. I've always admired Mexican, African and Indian art. My figures are a synthesis of all these."