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Susan Smith

Living in a small town in Central Maine, which is still reeling from the recent economic crisis, a town that has seen the disappearance of local industry and businesses, and where homes and farmland sit empty and fallow, my art has focused on these sites, these places of loss. As an artist, educator, and former landscaper, my practice attempts to combine these roles through site-specific projects that address the environment, through the use of sustainable methods and materials. As an artist I express our relationship to the natural world, but also important to me is the relationship of the worker to the land. For me, art must be grounded in the earth, not only as a site of inspirational beauty, but because I have an abiding belief that our separation from earth, the inability to see ourselves and our future in a handful of dirt or a weed, speaks to a loss of an intimate relationship with place, with soil, creating an environment of alienation. It is that idea of alienation I worked from during my time at the residency, creating work that establishes a direct relationship to the site. Prints made from the plant material growing in what once were fields of crops, rubbings taken from the worn barn wood, and a garden I reclaimed from overgrowth all contributed to the body of work, and places of engagement.  This emphasis on place and site and concern for the very ground beneath our feet is the core of my work, and through the opportunity of the residency, I was able to deeply form a relationship to this place, the soil, the plants that reside there, and through the mindful process of print and paint, create work that speaks to the importance of establishing and preserving the relationship to the land.

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