At Arts of the Albemarle you may have seen the work of Currituck County’s Robert E. Smithson as you stroll through the galleries. He’s a potter and a sculptor.
Smithson will be the guest artist at AOA’s Art Talk this Saturday. He’ll discuss his work, his methods and perhaps even his decision to leave an analytical life for one of creative whimsy.
With a degree from Virginia Polytechnic Institute, Smithson spent 30 years working as an environmental engineer. But he says he was interested in finding out more about is right brain activity.
“I had a desire to explore and develop my artistic side,” writes Smithson in his artist’s statement.
Smithson began studying ceramic arts and Studio D’Art in Norfolk, Va., and eventually at Terraforms Potter Studio in Virginia Beach.
“I have been working in pottery for 12 years and have become known in some circles as the ‘whimsical potter,’” he writes. His work is whimsical because Smithson will dabble, as he says, in the creation of amusing and unusual characters. These characters might show up on one his face mugs, for example.
“I enjoy the relaxation and excitement of a sunny morning studio, a cup of coffee from one of my face mugs beside me while watching expression evolve from my fingertips from a lump of sticky clay,” writes Smithson.
Smithson’s work tends to vary in theme and technique. And that, says the artist, tends to offer people interested in his work a variety — something for everyone.
“And no two pieces are alike.”
Smithson works with wheel-thrown and altered clay, or hand-built or sculpted pieces. He uses high-fire, cone six clay.
“My wheel thrown, functional ware is often differentiated by bright color plays, fro various glaze combinations.
Smithson’s work has been displayed at 17 different galleries and festivals in the region. That list includes AOA, Dru Thomson’s Red Rabbit Gallery, the Perquimans Art League, the Currituck County Art Show, and the Elizabeth City State University Gallery of Art.
The Art Talk will happen from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in AOA’s 516 Gallery. This art happening is free and open to the public.