CB Smith-Dahl is an artist and teacher who has always put the community at the center of her work.
In 1997, she founded Community Bridge Video, which produces educational and promotional films in partnership with nonprofits and community-based organizations. Her client list includes the California Council for the Humanities, Oakland Unified School District, Alameda County Health Department, and the City of Beverly Hills. She has an MFA in Cinematic Arts from the University of Southern California and a BA in Spanish and Education from Spelman College.
CB has worked as a Field Producer/Camerawoman for Reel Hollywood and a Writer/Producer for National Enquirer TV. She was one of a team of camera operators on 900 Women and Angola Prison Rodeo, which was nominated for an Academy Award. She has produced numerous educational and promotional videos including Every Dose, Every Day, On Time, which was funded by a Small Business Innovation in Research grant from the National Institutes of Health.
She began her career in media working as a Camera Assistant on music videos in Atlanta. After moving to Hollywood, she worked as a grip and electrician for 2 years. She is a graduate of the Panavision Internship program, Film Independent’s Project: Involve program, and was an Artist in Residence at the LA Skid Row Housing Trust.
CB is also an Educator - certified to teach middle school, high school and ESL. She has taught at a wide range of programs – working with children as young as 8, teens, and adults to create short films and photography projects. She has experience working with students from diverse backgrounds and with disabilities. Her specialty is working with at-risk youth, using visual arts as a tool for intervention, reflection, and community building. Some of the programs she’s taught for are Inner City Filmmakers, Horizons SF/The DJ Project, Streetside Productions/The East Bay Asian Youth Center, and the East Bay Center for the Performing Arts.
She is a consultant who has written and co-written curriculum for several organizations including the MO Project/California Adolescent Nutrition and Fitness (CANFIT), the Youth Action Institute, LA’s BEST and presents workshops on how to use media to bridge the digital divide and to teach multiple literacies.
CB is a on the Advisory Board for the Rock, Paper, Scissors Collective, a Co-founder of Eye to Eye: Art, Travel, Activism, and a member of the Community Committee of the Center on Culture, Immigration, and Youth Violence Prevention - which is a project of the National Council on Crime and Delinquency.
She first fell in love with photography at the age of 15 and recently picked up the (still) camera again. In just the last two years, her photographs have been published in the Oakland Tribune, Deaf People Magazine, and numerous annual reports and websites. CB is the proud mother of twin girls/future filmmakers-in-training.
The digital revolution has made media accessible – by lowering costs and simplifying choices. No longer do you have to understand the math of footcandles, apertures, film speed and shutter speed to take a correctly exposed picture. However, there are some tradeoffs. With the decreased cost and ease of automatic-mode, we sometimes take less time composing and executing our images. The most important tool a photographer has is not their camera – it is the lens through which they view the world – their eye, their unique perspective. And if that eye is rushing from one frame to the next, there is no time to focus on what’s important.
Many think that if you are an artist it means you must point yourself towards a professional career in the field. I disagree. I think everyone should try to develop their skills as an artist – whether or not they choose to make a living at it. There is value in practicing art for arts sake. I am inspired by the willingness of Oakland residents to pour their heart and their creativity into the work. Ultimately, that was the original goal of the digital revolution – to make it so that the power of art was not guarded by just a few elite but shared with all communities, everywhere.
In short, my art is for sharing. I share in an artistic process that bridges spiritual, cultural, and digital divides. I am a filmmaker and teacher committed to moving us all forward together.