This Issue's Cover Artist
Volume 2, Issue 1’s issue’s cover image is from a series by southern California artist Wendy Smith called Inside the Brain. The series consists of four drawings in four series each for a total of sixteen images.
The inspiration for the series was Camillo Golgi, who is considered the father of neuroscience. He was the first scientist to dye samples of brain tissue so the neurons could be observed. Walters’s drawings mimic this technique by using washes of color in different orders to illustrate the brain cells.
Walters did her undergraduate work in Nottingham England and then moved on to the Rhode Island School of Design, in Providence for grad school in sculpture.
Walters has done other “brain” drawings in her career, including a large set of drawings in Texas that are now owned by the Museum of Fine. As she likes to say, she left her brains in Texas.
Her other work often deals with subjects like evolution and mythology. Samples of her drawing and sculpture can be viewed on her web site, wendysmithartist.com.
An Interview with Artist Wendy Smith
TLR: Please tell us about your career track as a visual artist.
WS: Bumpy may best describe it. I went to undergraduate school in Nottingham England and ended up at RISD, Providence Rhode Island for grad school in sculpture. Then I was in Houston to do a residency program affiliated with the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. I would say there my career took off. I sold some pieces to the museum and a lot of work to collectors; I also did a commemorative wall for a synagogue and lots of other things. Since having my only son in the early ’90s my career went on a hiatus, until he was about 13 when I started to work seriously again. I have had my current studio for five years now and have been working mainly doing drawings. I had a solo show in Claremont (CA) last November.
TLR: Please tell us a little about the work we’ve chosen to feature on our cover.
WS: The piece you see on the cover is from a series called “Inside the Brain.” It is from a series of four drawings, and there are four series, so a total of 16 drawings. I got interested in the father of neuroscience, a man named Golgi; he was the first scientist to dye samples of brain tissue so the neurons could be observed. In my drawings I used washes of color in different orders to think about his process. This is not the first time I have done images of the brain, in fact I did a large set of brain drawings in Texas which the Museum of Fine Arts owns, so I could say I left my brains in Texas.
TLR: What are your other works like?
WS: I work with a visual language, so things that wouldn’t make any sense in words, have their own logicality. I have many interests, so this is a wide-ranging question. I have always been interested in what lies at the heart of things. I am very curious and will get obsessed with many things. I have often used different cultures as reference points. In grad school I was very interested in the Yoruba culture, and a series of spoon women sculpture came out of that. My most recent work has ranged from a huge triptych about the great battle between good and evil. I also got very involved with thinking about evolution and what resulted is a series of pieces under the title “Fetus Octopus Heart.”
TLR: Do you think there’s one thread that binds all of your work together?
WS: One of the threads is making the unseen, seen. For example lately I have been obsessed with light in my work. In the latest series of Chakra drawings, halfway through everything changed and the pieces are now also about coming into the light
TLR: How have you seen your work evolving over the years?
WS: As a child I always made things out of what was available at hand. My interests were to always understand complex structures. In many ways I am still working with the same concerns. My interests in the spiritual path have deepened and I am trying to present very complex ideas now. My work also deals with the body; I am always exploring how the body works. I also explore the mind. I became interested in seeing if I could portray how the mind worked.
TLR: Do you see an intersection between written creative work and visual work?
WS: I see an incredible link in all creative work; it comes from the same source. I was involved with a musician for ten years and the core place that both of our work came from was the same. It was wonderful to be able to communicate this with another human being. Often these conversations are difficult and I admit I don’t really have anyone I can talk to like that currently.
TLR: Wendy, you and I met as a result of a professional group oriented around goals. Can you tell us a little bit about what your goals are as a visual artist?
WS: I would like to get my work out to the people who are interested. I would like to have the opportunity to make sculpture. It is a difficult profession to be involved with, the art world. I have done a number of record covers and CD covers in the past, which is a wonderful way to get the work out. Mostly I would like to have exhibitions where I can show what I do, and finance this in some way either by selling the drawings I do or doing commissions. I have also done a number of tile pieces for the local parks where I live.