Artist Statement

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.



Lark was born in Illinois and raised in New Orleans. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts, Magna Cum Laude, from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA. Her career took her from university administrative work to technical documentation and then into a 23-year career as a financial advisor. Now retired, Lark is enjoying the freedom to devote her time and energy to artistic endeavors. Her recent artistic training has included intensive workshops at the Penland School of Crafts as well as additional ceramics workshops with many artists, including Lana Wilson, Sang Roberson, Alice Ballard, Cynthia Bringle and Rosette Gault.