Event Information:

  • Fri

    FORUM SERIES:Artist Talk by Paula Smith

    12:00 pmMet Contemporary Gallery

    Artist Talk by Paula Smith

    You are cordially invited to join us at The Met Contemporary Gallery of Fine Art. Please mark your calendars for an artist talk by  Paula Smith
    Friday, September 28th, 12 PM This Event is Free and open to the public. Please make a reservation at MetContemporary@gmail.com.

    Artist Statment 

    The idea for the “Sweet Sixteen” series came to me in 1999, my daughter had a “My Size Barbie” it was a gift from Santa in 1993. We had moved the doll up to the attic, but the whole idea was germinating for years. My daughter had known that I was not a fan of Barbie dolls, the whole body image thing.  I saw it standing in the attic and thought I can make a series based on just the torso of this doll. So I took the doll, after getting permission from my daughter of course, to the band saw and cut the head, arms and legs off the torso and made a mold of just the torso. As a ceramic artist, I look at things as vessels, including the human body. I wanted these to “contain” objects like a reliquary of sorts. Sacred everyday objects, that come with their own definitions but by being placed in these torsos the meanings get changed or heighten. So my original idea was to do 16 torsos, all having pink doll like satin glazed exteriors, but making small niches that held objects that have references to being a girl. A "happy" failure happened when I was firing the torsos, at least half of them came out of a glaze kiln with the glaze defect called shivering. Of course I had a deadline for an exhibition and I had to get the pieces done. I had to sand blast the glaze off the pieces, and that is how this series started to have individual surface treatments. So I use glazes, sugar, rice, dirt, paint, whatever I think works for the piece.


    The series is called “Sweet Sixteen” as a ceremonial rite of passage, a girl coming of age. The torso is a female form, that is almost a cookie cut out if you will. It is the surface treatment and the contained objects that individualize these pieces. Girls are not cookie cut outs they are all individuals. The first installation had 16 torsos. Now I show them in different groups and numbers, I have worked on this series for almost 20 years and made at least 75 different forms. Each sculpture has a different meaning and is a response to the object that is placed in the sacred container.

    I love to collect things, now I am always looking for objects that I can place in these torsos.  The piece with the mirror takes on many meanings. We look at ourselves and our reflections in mirrors they somehow define us, by you the viewer looking at the piece with the mirror you are becoming part of the piece. The dirt can be interpreted as dust to dust, we are part of the earth.

    The large match stick, I love things that are weird proportions, it struck me as such a funny object, but I bought it with the intension of putting it in a torso and “smoking” the torso like potters do with pots. Often each piece has many levels of meaning. I like the idea of the phrase, I got burnt by that deal. “You make me burn inside.”


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