Harriet Smith

Media: Manmade Materials

Asheville, NC

Many of my friends thought I was crazy!  Leave a steady job to build clay vessels?  Give yourself the chance to make one hugely different career move.  Try to keep a more elastic attitude while having some fun?  It seemed an attractive choice to me. 

It was my background in chemistry that landed me my job of 17 years at Shell Chemical but my major in art and art history and my interest in the arts and crafts movement had always held my keen interest.  After studying several different media, I discovered polymer clay, a relatively new synthetic material available in many rich saturated colors.  After a few years of experimentation as a hobby, I began to build small vessels or boxes.  Although not limited to, I generally find myself molding or building clay boxes directly inspired from natural forms and creatures.  Once finished, my translation is always bold in color and abstracted and contemporary.  Whimsical and fun!  There is also a great deal of technical effort involved while building these vessels that can be as fun and challenging as the artistic effort.  I feel I've been successful in making these abstractions if I can make a viewer look at the object of inspiration with a different perspective or a more thoughtful viewpoint.  Although I am largely self taught, through the years I have taken several workshops and classes from some very talented people.  Late at night I often sit and bemoan the cut in pay and my long hours but I've never considered going back. 

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