Todd Smith
Todd Smith

Local artist Todd C. Smith has been named the inaugural Kentucky Artist Innovator in Health (KAIH), an eight-month residency aimed at creating a digital, arts-based intervention for obesity prevention, and focused in Louisville and Jackson, Kentucky.

The KAIH project is an initiative of the University of Louisville’s Center for Creative Placehealing and Center for Health Organization Transformation, based in the UofL School of Public Health and  Information Sciences, along with IDEAS xLab.

“I have always had the intuitive sense that creative community art can make a difference, but this opportunity will provide not only a method for gauging our success, but the tools to make sure we are headed in the right direction,” Smith said.

Smith is an interdisciplinary artist and educator, and teaches 2D, 3D and digital art at universities in the region. He also is the artist behind Bike Sense Louisville, a public art project that is tracking volunteer cyclists around Louisville, sensing environmental data as they ride and interpreting it into sound on the Big Four Bridge.

A primary component of the KAIH residency is training on the Universal Community Planning Tool (UCPT) developed by the Public Health Department of Garrett County in Maryland. UCPT uses open-source technology to equip communities with sustainable, culturally-responsive strategies. 

“We’re developing an entrepreneurial population health workforce who thinks differently about how to solve deeply entrenched challenges that require new approaches,” said Theo Edmonds, director of UofL’s Center for Creative Placehealing. “The KAIH residency brings together transdisciplinary teams of community members, researchers, practitioners and creatives, which is the foundation of our pioneering approach to cultural wellbeing.” 

 “Todd will work alongside community members and researchers to adapt the UCPT platform for Kentucky, and I’m looking forward to seeing how his expertise as an artist working with technology informs the process and supports more equitable data-driven decision making,” said Josh Miller, co-founder and CEO of IDEAS xLab. “This artist residency presents a chance to re-rame how we approach urban-rural collaboration in creating a more healthy, just and creative Kentucky.”  

The KAIH Residency is supported by funds from the National Endowment for the Arts; a County Health Rankings & Roadmaps Community Collaborative Learning Fund award; and a State Physical Activity and Nutrition (SPAN) grant from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention through the Kentucky Cabinet for Health & Family Services.