Wendy Morosoff Smith describes her abstract environmental and cultural landscape paintings and original prints as “meditations on place, time, the elements, memory and perception".
“I often have a strong horizon line in my pieces—perhaps a reference to prairie life while growing up. I’m always drawing on a strong element of expansive space and light,” she says.
While Smith was traveling in Cambodia and visiting the ancient ruins of Angkor Wat, she saw a sign near one of the crumbling temples that said, “secrets of the elephants”. She made a record of this in her notebook, later returning to process it at her studio in Tsawwassen, B.C. Smith’s paintings of this time draw from her memories of the aging stone, intricate coloured carvings, and the history that took place there.
During these travels, Smith was inspired by the notion of giving and receiving, and the act of making offerings, a theme she has explored in recent work. Other cultural references have also influenced her work. “While traveling in Southeast Asia, I was moved by the symbolic reference of the lotus flower. The lotus in Buddhist philosophies symbolizes the search of enlightenment, light, and perseverance.” While processing her traveling experiences back home, she often discovered many abstract forms of the lotus flower in her paintings.
The coastline near Boundary Bay is also an inspiration to many of her works. She finds that the constant changing of the seasons, the shoreline, and tidal patterns are incredible resources for environmental interpretation.
“I am open to what I’m seeing. I love to walk around outdoors near my home and observe my surroundings—really spend time in one area. I ask myself what I am seeing – what textures or colours are there and how does it make me feel,” she says, noting that she is “totally open to any experience that comes along.” After absorbing the scene, she later paints what she calls her “memory landscapes.”
"This process allows me to better abstract an image that gives a sense of place or an atmosphere to the senses,” she says.
Smith is currently working on a new series, Feeding the Hungry Ghosts, which captures her travels in Southeast Asia. This series invites the Buddhist traditions while interpreting small artifacts of their daily existence. The offerings, whether they be bowls of food, incense, candlelight, or flowers, all have certain meanings. Her works focus on these objects while identifying the idea to “honour each day, have full attention in life, and offer yourself to living.” The new offerings series will be exhibited at Dundarave Print Workshop & Gallery on Granville Island from September 8 to 28, 2014.
In addition, Full Circle Art Collective, which Smith is part of, will be exhibiting their most recent project In Wait at the Burnaby Art Gallery from September 5 to November 9, 2014. The collaborative project is based on Penelope’s “act of waiting” in Homer’s Odyssey, which transcends into the collective’s active form of waiting. The exhibition’s tapestry perspective draws on the artists’ personal experiences and the shared communal consciousness of the “ubiquitous act of waiting.”
Smith’s concrete foundation in Vancouver’s local art scene allows her to not only show off her spiritually captivating works, but to see the gradual transformation of gallery representation to community collectives. “Artists are no longer relying on galleries because of the limitations of exhibits.” Smith is finding that artists are forming smaller collectives amongst one another in the community or participating in pop-up gallery shows. There is a “shift of creative thinking.”
To find out more about Smith’s upcoming shows or to see more of her paintings, visit her website at www.wendymsmith.com.