Karen Jean Smith - Ceramics
Artist Statement: On Quiet Waters
Yellow pond lily and the water chestnut collections
Appropriate venues, exhibit spaces
This fanciful as well as science-based collection of work is ideal for capturing the attention of the art minded, the science minded and those who remain happily uncategorized. It is both witty and informative, as well as timely.
"Explorations of A Nemesis" is an artistic collection but can serve as an educational vehicle as well, including awareness of an invasive species that plagues our quiet waterways. Supporting literature from science departments and/or environmental agencies such as Cornell University Cooperative Extension along with samples of actual trapa natans nuts are a perfect addition, if not a necessary component to this exhibit. Such materials can be provided by local authorities or the artist, depending upon the location of the exhibit.
The work based on both water chestnuts and yellow pond lilies is appropriate for art galleries as well as environmentally conscious institutions such as nature centers and museums.
These collections or parts thereof, are also very appropriate for school presentations. As a retired art educator, I am able to speak about the art as well as connections to other areas of the curricula, in particular science and storytelling (language arts).
Contact Karen Jean Smith to schedule an exhibit or presentation of all or part of the collection.
Time spent in my kayak enriches my life in many ways, not the least of which is to provide me with themes for my work in ceramics. In recent years, I have developed two collections of work based on aquatic plants that I came upon while paddling. My method is to study the forms and other characteristics of the plant to create representational sculptures as a starting point, and then I like to have some fun. This involves experimenting with different clays, glazes and firing techniques, as well as imagining a personality for the plants, creating characters and an accompanying story, and adding some humor or a bit of drama. While I am enjoying this endeavor, it is my hope that the variety in the work will touch a greater audience and serve to educate as well.
My first foray into aquatic plant themes concentrated on the European water chestnut, a non native species that appears in quiet waters of the northeastern United States. My husband and I had found the evil looking nuts along the bank of a river, and he was the first to suggest that I try to make one in clay. The form of the nuts is fascinating to me, and the invasive and destructive nature of this plant was great fun to interpret into sculpture.The result is the collection entitled "Explorations of a Nemesis."
"The Spatterdocks" collection is in some ways an opposing theme in this exhibit. The yellow pond lily or spatterdock, is a native species and is most often a positive contributor to the ecology of the fresh waters of the northeastern United States. The flower has a simple outer form and is often overlooked in the presence of the pink and white water lilies popularized by Claude Monet. Within the outer forms, I found unusual and beautiful parts that surprised and delighted me. As they mature, the inner flowers transform into seed pods that look like small pots floating on the water. How could I resist?
I hope you will enjoy!