Friday, June 3, 2011

One Road, Two Paths @ Salt Creek Artworks, Part II: Cheryl Mackey Smith

Cheryl Mackey Smith's work is easy on the eye. Some of it is decorative, in beautiful, multi-hued patterns and shapes to beautify one's environment.
Part of Cheryl Mackey Smith's Exhibit at Salt Creek Artworks

Some goes much further. She uses clay, beads, wire, found objects to make basically four different kinds of work: Decorative, biomorphic, geomorphic, and close to the decorative, but along humorous lines, conceptual. On the left, we see three of Cheryl's geomorphic works, the "Terrain" series.
Cheryl Mackey Smith, "Fumaroles"

In "Fumaroles", we see some of the tropes that are used in this geomorphic series. Note the segmentation of the form. It is an elegant, irregular grid in the form of cuts. They come across as a visualization of geological (tectonic) forces, and a temporal record or signature of them over time. The viewer feels the torsion and tensions, and gains an idea of their vectors and history.
  Fumaroles are "smokers" in geological hot spots. There are many to be found in Yellowstone. The color here is bright and its shading accentuates the topography of the ceramic.

Cheryl Mackey Smith, "Harvest"

In "Harvest", the idea of the "Terrain" series being derived from aerial views is easier to see. Cheryl told me that she the idea for this work came from flying over an agricultural area. If one looks closely, the patchwork quilt of cultivated fields becomes apparent. The colors here are a little reminiscent of an abalone shell.

Cheryl Mackie Smith, "Earthscape: Desert Wind"

"Desert Wind" is a departure from the others. The eye-candy colors are replaced by unglazed tan and smoky tones that link to the desert theme well.
  Each of the sub-frames delineated by the grid on these things could be considered a sub-frame/work, concatenated into the whole.

Cheryl Mackie Smith, "Party in Your Pocket"

On the left, one of Cheryl's decorative/conceptual pieces, which are humorous and light-hearted. Note how there are actually several small works in this piece. Multiples, but each is an individual. This idea runs through a lot of the work in this show.

Cheryl Mackie-Smith, "Toasted"

In "Toasted", the idea of multiples is clearly at the core of the work. The artist uses the variations on tone deliberately created by the process used as part of the esthetic here.

Close-up of "Toasted"

On the left, a close-up of  "Toasted". What we are seeing the artist deal with, in these multiples, is a typology, a catalog of variants or objects in a category/class. This was used in photography by August Sander in the 1920's when he attempted a typology of the German people in his book, "Face of Our Time". Cheryl Mackie Smith is doing something similar, but in a more conceptual way here, perhaps a metaphor of the collective and the individual?

Congratulations to Cheryl Mackie Smith, Salt Creek Artworks and Lance Rodgers for a good show.

--- Luis

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