Visual artist using meditative processes. Smereka media include: found and dried objects, ink on paper, video, books, sewn fabric forms and detritus from the floor.
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heterotopia - detritus
The work here was made in Hong Kong where I spent 6 months on Lamma Island in 2016 - a seemingly remote place off the coast of Hong Kong. The studio I had there was a heterotopia, space of 'otherness.' I have returned with the work I did there - a trace of having been there, yet the experience seems missing or lost. Cancelled out. An equal push-pull that brings me to the place from which I started as if no time had passed.
Part of my process on the island became a gathering of detritus; dead ants, dust, leaves, other island trash and lint balls from my sweater. Collecting residues of my brother's life, sweepings of crumbling relationship all became housed or glued in my Mo Tat heterotopia - a place out of time.
I worked on small cards (1.75 x 2.25"), in note books and paper (4 x 5" to 9 x 12"), found objects including mooring buoys.
‘Personal P’ is an altered book I began in 2009, 9.25 x 6 x 1", 250 pages. I worked with India ink, gouache and sandpaper. After my brother died, September 10, 2015, I found solace in the mark making, anew. The meditative quality of a simple repeated line was a grounding way to contemplate his life and death. I quickly filled and completed the book by May of 2016.
These drawings and watercolors have been inspired from drawings and doodles of my brother, Peter, made soon before his death. The grids of blue dots were inspired from a dream of my sister's in which she found herself walking in a grid of blue dots. She knew the dots were related to Peter and she remarked on the sense of well being she experience while in the grid. I worked on these in my Mo Tat studio - in notes books - 9 x 7.5" and 7.5 x 5.5". Since I have returned, I continue to explore these motifs and media.
In the Mo Tat studio I explored ways of working without creating an 'object.' Here I spent much time thinking about my brother's death trying to make sense of it and coming to terms with it just the way it was. This group of photos were shot of grey plastic stools and a partially painted (by me) buoy I found on the rocks on the beach.
“It is shown that a uniform suspension of bubbles rising at a constant speed is a solution to the model…It is also shown that this steady solution is unstable.”
Bubbly Flows with Gravity and Viscosity, Peter Smereka, 1998
The elements of this video installation:
- sewing loops, sewing books (loops of binding) led me to recognize that each person is a conglomeration of loops (internal, cognitive, emotional, narrative.) - drawings on the wall (paper) copied from my brother’s notebook (lots of tubes and loops) - the clothing used to make the loopy tubes belonged to my friend Cecile - the video is a loop - wind turbines loop, and allude to pages turning in a book - shadows of people walking refer to cells, death and loops: shadows of their former selves - ‘bubbly flow’ is the subject of my brother's research - when you put two things together they form a ‘loop.’
Over the years, beginning in 2008, I have drawn dirigibles. The verve to do so had seemed to come from ‘nowhere.’ So for this installation, I explored possibilities as to what had drawn me to these ‘lighter than air’ vessels.
My journey for answers led me to “The Deltoid Pumpkin Seed” by John McPhee and it was through that odd book that I began to understand a sympathy for the ‘lost cause.’ The book chronicles, airship Deltoid 7 (among others), which never got off the ground.
The dried and withered fruit and vegetables in this wall installation are part a collection that began 2 years ago with a dry shriveled beet I found under a shelf at work and was struck by its beauty.
These unknown, hidden, dried up and inert lumps in our histories are somehow comforting to me. Flightless is my own beautiful, encumbered vessel that was shown at the flynndog in 2014.
The work comprised a variety of dried fruits and vegetables as well as ink on a 15' X 20' wall.
The work of gluing my hair onto paper was born during an extended period of intense pain in my jaw and head. The methodical repetitive motion was a restorative process. Meditative. The act of gluing an individual hair represents a microcosm of the mind/body tension. Hair, with its own body and me, my will: with every hair I put down there is a necessary effort to collaborate with one's self. A gentle wrestling of wills. The drawings are records of both tangible and intangible aspects of the self. I glued hair into sinuous patterns and simple pathways in books, on compact cards compiled into sheaves and onto large paper.
This piece, installed at Quench Space, May 2012. comprised of approximately 2000 weathered cloths pins and 100 collage prints. The inspiration for this piece came from the letters of my aunt which I had been extracting words and phases from, as well as the clothespin in its inactive position. There were particular words my aunt used that embodied this active/inactive tension of one's daily life.
I transformed 20 years of journals into 3 accordion 'books'. The process involved disassembling the journal then reading each page and upon completion - I folded the page into fours. It took six months to read and fold everything - the best free therapy I've had. I then sewed the pages together to form an accordion. I built the 3 'tombs,' 20 x 5 x 7" out of book board and book cloth to house the transformed pages.
From September 2008 to November 2009 I did a 'daily drawing.' I worked on 6 x 6" acid free paper with micron pens. The drawings morphed from theme to theme - each one lasting 2 to 4 weeks - the time it took to 'birth' the next.
I have been making monoprints since 2001 and enjoyed the immediacy of the process. I appreciate the layering - the 'accidents' that can happen in a monoprint (as oppose my experience painting) The monochromatic images here are using an oil based ink with a water base India ink and water. Sizes range from 15 x 11" to 7 x 5".