ArtVoiceWV: Rhonda J Smith

ArtVoiceWV: Rhonda J Smith


Music I think of myself as a printmaker and I
do that I think because I like the fact that most people don’t know what
printmaking is so they don’t have a preconceived idea what that is and then
I get to show them and tell them. Music This is one of those original plates and
I keep using this plate and that plate that’s also one of the originals because
it has a beautiful grid up here. I had for years been using plexiglas on my
table top surfaces at home but I would cut on those surfaces and I would glue
on the surfaces and I would do all these things and then when the plexiglas got
to abraised I would pick it up pop it, break it, and throw it in the trash. Well, one
day I picked that piece of plexiglas up that I cutting on for years and I picked
it up and I looked at it and I said oh my gosh I can ink this up! And that’s
what I did. Music So when I came to Shepherd initially the work that I was doing was highly representational, very realistic and very photographic. And over time what began to happen was bigger interest in sort of contemporary
approaches and what was happening in contemporary art which is what we teach
here. And that led me to try and think about my work in a different way and at
the same time the department was traveling to Europe and I realized that travel and
journeys and these excursions whether they’re in the mind or whether they’re
really physical journeys are all things that began to contribute to my art and
the way that I thought about the objects and the images in my art. But more
importantly in the end what they became about was knowing about me and what
home really is. And so I think now the work is not … it’s still about travel and
journeys but more often it’s about a returning. So it’s about a cycle that always comes back. And the
cycle always comes back to home. Music It’s ok. We’ll live with it. I think my interest in African art and African culture has
really probably more than any other thing influenced my work. Music In Africa art literally empowers people.
Quite literally. I mean the whole culture understands this. And they had these things, that are talisman that are worn by hunters. And that whole idea of the talisman being
worn so that people could see that number one they were a hunter. and that they had these protections that
they were wearing as a hunter. I began to see my art as sort of that kind of a
thing too. That it’s a talisman. It’s a kind of gift that’s worn or displayed to
help people understand me. Understand themselves maybe in a different way. And
I use that word talisman a lot in titles of work; maybe in whole exhibits of
work because I do think that I’ve begun to see the work itself as a kind of talisman. Music These, the backgrounds of these, so the pattern this blue pattern, blue and yellow pattern in these, that’s that water pattern that I created four years ago when I was in Venice . I had these little images of this water but because they got torn down the idea that they are water is completely gone. I cut them up to these six by six inch pieces
because I also like working really small. I think I do what I do because I enjoy
doing it. Because the process itself is unpredictable. Because I don’t know
what’s going to happen until it happens. Because I don’t know how it’s going to
turn out till it turns out. And I like that. I like that, maybe there’s some people who
like knowing what everything’s gonna be. I’m not one of those people. I prefer
that you do something and then you see how that went and then you do something else.
And I like this unpredictability. Music So I think, why do I do what I do? Because I enjoy the accidents. I enjoy the things that occur that you didn’t really know were going to happen. That’s why I like travel. It’s exactly the same. You go on a trip. You think you know what’s gonna
happen. You have no idea what’s gonna happen. Things happen completely differently
than you thought. And you just roll with those with those punches and it’s great! So I think my art-making is just like my travel. Music

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