We will be open for First Friday, 6-9 p.m.
Feb. 2 – Mar. 30, 2018
Reception with the artist Friday Feb. 2, 6 – 9 p.m.
Wendi Smith’s “ritual collections” are prayers from a devotional art practice. Smith finds things in nature – sticks, stones, feathers, shells – and puts them in reclaimed wooden boxes. She then paints those things on the boxes themselves.
Smith writes, “I was academically trained in photorealism, but it has changed now that I am older. Photorealism had a big heyday when I was in school, but looser interpretation and emotional content appeal to me. Photorealism asks for the neutrality of a camera and doesn’t allow for the individual artists’ content. I was taught not to get too personal with the content, and that never suited me.”
The power of a devotional practice is to withhold nothing of the self from it. By nesting her still life objects in the still life itself, Smith has made an open matter of how “correctly” she does or does not paint; her skill is out of the box and in full view. The fault-finding eye is a burden painters live with, but she accepts it and hands it back to the viewer as a gift.
There are questions here about art, about the sacred, and about Nature to which she is devoted. How does her painting on the outside of the box prepare us to encounter its contents? Are these particular stones, twigs, and fallen feathers sacred? Is every stone, twig, and fallen feather? Does the effort and skill of the artist create, champion or reveal sacrality? Each piece offers viewers another chance to feel through such questions for themselves.
Smith writes, “They are not intended to be powerful or magical, except in the reverence for Nature in which they are designed and executed.” This is modest, for there is the considerable power of her painting.
Smith also exhibits sticks delicately wrapped with string and beads. They recall how a rosary is fundamentally a string with knots, where each knot indicates one repetition of a prayer.
A long fascination with ritual objects has brought me to fetishes. A fetish may be a figure or a non-figurative object which is associated with spiritual connection, magic, or offerings. Creating a fetish is a way of making a prayer or intention physical, of calling upon an unseen power, of trying to influence that which we cannot control.
These particular pieces are culled from found natural objects, and influenced by Native American design. They are not intended to be powerful or magical, except in the reverence for Nature in which they are designed and executed.
garner narrative contemporary fine art
642 E. Market St.
Louisville, KY 40202
Wed-Sat 1-6, Sun 12-5, First Fridays 1-9, and by appointment