The Artisan Gallery is pleased to announce the opening of an exhibit of the ceramic artist Liz Smith .
Friday, April 6 through Sunday, May 20
Opening Reception with the artist during Artwalk: Friday, April 13, 5-8
The most intriguing aspect of making functional work for me is that it is an art form readily accepted into people's lives. Mine is a commitment to the idea that art is most effective when it is connected to repeated daily experience revealing itself through use over time. This commitment is one that consistently brings me back to the functional object. Our contemporary context often finds us less and less connected in a physical way to experience and to others. I am compelled to make work that proposes an alternative to this path and highlights the continuing relevance of the handcrafted object.
Functional pots both demand and create sensual experience, they are meant not only to be seen but touched, used and pondered, their weight felt, their surfaces pressed against hands and lips. Their function aids in nourishing the body, the physical act of their creation links me to the user, and their references and materials link us both to the long history of art and ceramics. This complex mix of physicality, community and history keeps me continually engaged in the process of making.
Currently I am most interested in 18th and 19th century European porcelain from factories such as Meissen and Sevres. It is the idea of the grandiose celebrations for which these objects were made that I am so attracted. The objects acted as decadent and ostentatious displays of wealth but also as markers of the importance of eating and drinking, of the meal enjoyed and shared with others. In my work I embrace the idea of decoration, grandiosity, and ostentation while infusing these elaborate objects with a casualness through material, process and surface that may be more appropriate to our everyday utilitarian activities. These objects are not meant to be passive actors in the shared meal but rather defining characters. They are not meant to be used only during celebratory occasions but rather to support the notion that every occasion is celebratory. It is of the utmost importance to me that people use these objects, as it is only through use that their purpose can be fulfilled.
Liz Smith has been studying ceramics and making pottery since 1991. She received her undergraduate degree, a Bachelor of Science in Studio Art, from Skidmore College in 1994. Upon graduation she worked for a year as an apprentice to ceramic artist Toshiko Takaezu. After completing her year there she spent the next three years working in a variety of venues related to the field including at a production pottery in Maine, assistantships at the Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts and the Peter's Valley Craft Center, and as an unclassified graduate student at Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville. She received her Master of Fine Art degree in 2000 from Louisiana State University. Upon completion of her degree she was given the job as Assistant Professor of Art at the University of Central Arkansas where she continues to teach.