Mapping a Place:
“To be "in" a place is to feel it on our skins, examine it with deep seeing, and reflect on it with memory. In order to make visual a sense of place, I rely on multiple points of view, often expressed simultaneously. One view may be from above, as if from the vantage point of a bird. Another viewpoint is a distant horizon that may offer a sense of near and far simultaneously. And then there is a slightly out of focus blur as we near a natural object, for instance, when inhaling the scent of a flower. These points of view generate the series of works shown here.
On occasion we rely on cues from those who've gone before - maps, signs and symbols, or blazes cut in trails. These marks may help or confuse, depending on our understanding and experience, but they always acknowledge the presence of others. Maps involve measuring and those graphic elements also appear in some works. The "big picture" then, is the sum of details stitched together that help to heighten our awareness of place. Heightened awareness: that's what I aim for in my studio, and that's what I hope will be a response to my work.”
I use only one material, an industrial grade polyester non-woven fabric. It looks like paper, but it is so tough, I can’t even tear it. It is my canvas on which I paint using Golden and Daniel Smith acrylics as well as silk-paint pigments, all chosen for light-fastness. Each finished piece attaches with Velcro to a wooden frame that is mounted behind the work, pushing it away from the wall so it appears to hover on the wall, casting its shadow.
Process and Techniques:
I make a painting on the material, then bond several layers together to form a heavy base on which to collage small elements of the same painted material that are heat-set in place. The final stage that literally and visually binds the work together is drawing with the sewing machine in lines that resemble a topographical map. I see this as a three-stage process of painting, collage and drawing to make the work. What do I call it? I call it art. Mixed Media is probably the simplest category.
-Barbara Lee Smith