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Art & Life with Rhonda Smith

Today we’d like to introduce you to Rhonda Smith.

Rhonda, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
From a young age I worked with my hands making all kinds of things….an apron from scraps of cloth, a stuffed cat, rafts from sticks, canals, flying things. How fortunate to be relatively unencumbered. There was always music in our household and my mother was a remarkable pianist. One of my siblings was very good at drawing. Also, exploring the natural landscape, revering its secrets, has been an abiding influence on my art practice and how I think. Growing up we had fields and woods for adventures and always water, whether lake or ocean. I thought I would be a biologist but I became a visual artist. For many years I worked as a manager of small businesses; working with numbers gives a different kind of satisfaction.

Can you give our readers some background on your art?
My work is abstract and has been very map-like . The natural elements of rock and water are very present. I had begun building out the surfaces on my painting panels. And then it was apparent that I needed to, that I could, switch from 2D to 3D. This is a big change for me. It is like traveling to the Amazon after having visited Europe for many years. Now in 3D I can go farther.

I want to make certain elements like Sulphur and phenomena like fog and the inside of planets. Once the impulse to create has been followed, the impulse to render life in an object or surface is very strong. It has little to do with ego. For me initial ideas are catalysts but not templates. I have to see where an image wants to go. It is challenging and deeply satisfying. Right now my view is more dystopian; that is, the clash of the human with nature. We call it a battle. But nature is not fighting, we are. Oddly perhaps, as I am working to put things together, I would like to understand the other side, the destructive force. It certainly has a part in art making. If it didn’t resulting work would be very restricted, limited. Right now I am working on an installation that will embody these dynamics. I feel I will be telling a story, which is new territory for me. I have been thinking a lot about the beginning of life, our galaxy, the planets, microbes, humans. Now we are at a crucial crossroads wherein our environment is struggling. There is no going back on this miraculous form of life that we humans are but we need to fulfill our potential far differently.

I have three hopes for viewers in relation to my work. One is that they take up the implied invitation to travel upon the surfaces of any work, like an imaginary journey as with the ancient Chinese scholars’ rocks. The journey might be finding a path up a mountain, fording a river, setting sail. Such a unique and solitary journey is replete with discoveries about the self. The second experience would be to revel in color. We are so affected by it daily but sometimes forget its life-giving impact. And the third experience for viewers would be to leave with questions about who we humans are. It could be a very hopeful; we could all be quite creative together.

Any advice for aspiring or new artists?
I would say be bold and also, don’t hold back. This is advice for one’s art making practice. It can apply as well to the other half of an artist’s life which is putting oneself out into the public world. However, being bold in the world outside the studio needs a lot of sensitivity, a calibrating of one’s needs to what is needed as a whole. I am learning now from others that being generous is an essential quality of self. If generosity is excessive it smacks of obsequiousness; it needs to be sincere. When it is genuine a real exchange can take place. Ambition for one’s career is fine as long as sincerity is at the base.

What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
I have a solo show coming up June 2019 at the Kingston Gallery in the South End of Boston.

It will be one room of individual pieces and a room with an installation encompassing this clash of us with our planet, with all other life.. I am very excited about the show. Also my studio will be open for the United South End Artists Open Studios September 15-16,2018 and the first weekend in May 2019 SOWA Art Walk.

I love to talk with people about their work and ideas as well as showing them what I am doing. The exchange is very rewarding.

Contact Info:

  • Address: 450 Harrison Avenue, #418
    Boston, MA 02118
  • Website: rhondasmithartist.com
  • Phone: 1-617-717-8322
  • Email: rhondsmi@comcast.net
  • Instagram: rhondsmi
  • Facebook: Rhonda Smith
  • Twitter: rhondsmi


Image Credit:
Will Howcraft
Rhonda Smith

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