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Artist Profile: Denise Smith

This past weekend I had the pleasure of heading back to my old alumni, Univeristy of Regina, to give a talk and a workshop. It was kind of surreal to be back, sorta like a high school reunion but with folks and staff I really miss. I got to hang out with Ruth Chambers and Jack Sures in the studio, some of the people responsible (to blame?) for my love of ceramics.

While there I also got to hang out with the students, do some crits and check out what was up in their studios. I love having a peek (snoop) around other artists spaces. There was a bunch of great student work being produced by the undergrad and grad students and I wanted to take some time to share it with you.

Part of the goal for the Make and Do blog is to help shed light on what's going on around Canada, from pots to performance, emerging to established. So over time you'll see us grow the list of artist profiles on the blog. From time to time we'll be grabbing people from the directory as well to showcase so make sure to sign up for the directory.

For today I want to introduce the work of Denise Smith. Originally from Thunder Bay, Ontario she's currently a grad student at the U of R. I first came across her work in an exhibition at the Burlington Art Gallery. Anyone working in figurative sculpture is of course a big draw for me, and her work is layered in its surfaces as well as content. Super engaging.

Her work looks at our relationships with natural spaces, in particular analyzing the importance of national parks and tourist sites in defining national identity. Here's a blurb from her wesbite:

"She is particularly interested in the development of tourism in Banff National Park and Algonquin Provincial Park. Her work questions the consequences of creating boundaries around nature and turning it into a park, and whether that truly protects the land. In many cases human boundaries and animal territories conflict, with animals unknowingly wandering across human boundaries. Seeing the parks as invaluable, irreplaceable, and uniquely Canadian yet recognizing the park system as an active participant in a process of mediation, she addresses the unforeseen impacts of outdoor tourism."

The detail on these pieces is so rich that you really have to see them to full appreciate them. Each narrative is sculpted in the round and unveils the full dialogue as you go. Her more recent works are more subtle in their presentation of the subject matter perhaps mirroring the subtleties of the boundaries of which she speaks.

Find out more about Denise and her work on her website.

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