Lark Gildermaster Smith
I live part of the year on a South Carolina barrier island and part of the year on a North Carolina mountain top. Each day I enjoy nature and find inspiration in every direction — the twisted branches of an ancient live oak or mountain laurel, the marks left by a gator moving across a sandy road, the scream of a hawk, the ever-changing colors of the marsh grasses, the clouds over the mountains. Then, in my studio, I don’t work to mimic nature — but to use her offerings as a departure point for my work.
I am, in the truest sense of the word, a “mixed” media artist. Clay, collage, acrylics, encaustics, watercolors, wood, fiber and photography are all tools for me — and yet my favorite medium is clay. I enjoy its smooth, cool tactile qualities, the challenge of creating in three dimensions and the surprises each time I open my kiln. I have been working with clay for over 60 years, since I was a child visiting my grandfather. My mother, Janet Gildermaster, was an artist so I have always been surrounded by her artwork and encouraged to be creative.
In my art, I enjoy the hand/eye/mind connection that occurs as I work. The patterns, shapes and textures that I find around me – both in nature and in man-made objects — are my inspirations when I go into my studio. I take those visual cues and experiment, translating them into my artwork.
An instructor once told me: “My artwork is the pursuit of happiness – not the expectation of bliss.” This is exactly how I feel – I pursue my artwork because the process is absorbing. While I work the “outside” temporarily disappears and I am content to simply create.