Yearlong installation by artist Kerrie Smith on view at Wildling Museum of Art and Nature
“Portals and Pathways,” a new year-long installation by Santa Barbara artist Kerrie Smith, is on view through February 2023.
Designed for the Michele Kuelbs Tower Gallery at the Wildling Museum of Art and Nature in Solvang, the multisensory installation features flowing banners printed with Ms. Smith’s vivid abstract paintings inspired by daily walks along Santa Barbara’s More Mesa.
Interspersed are sheer banners featuring personal poetry hand-stamped with wooden blocks carved by the artist.
“The More Mesa Open Space is an ever-changing landscape that has inspired my creative process for the past two decades. My daily walks have gradually covered the more than 340 acres of beautiful trails and pristine beaches with gentle reviving breezes. This stunning and slightly secret place is the home of ‘Portals and Pathways,’ ” Ms. Smith said.
Circular “portals” hang from floor to ceiling adorned with Ms. Smith’s photography of local flora and fauna as well her paintings and impressions of the trails that surround More Mesa.
Ambient sounds of crashing waves, animal life and encounters recorded by Ms. Smith also invite visitors to take in the experience of walking along the trails as nature and human life collide and overlap.
“My ‘banners’ rise out of the light and shadows that I witness through the seasons at various times of the day and early evenings,” she said. “I recreate the ephemeral as organic, nature-driven forms that reflect this shape-shifting landscape. These shapes, bounded by curves, mirror the constantly unfolding transitions of light and color.
“For me, they reveal optimism, expansiveness, creation and the life force. I build my compositions with multiple layers and an array of techniques and tools as I seek a balance between the once tamed landscape and its original feral state.”
The artist will continue to update the gallery with the changing seasons, transforming the space throughout 2022-2023 as part of the Wildling Museum’s inaugural artist-in-residence program for the Michele Kuelbs Tower Gallery.
“As the subtle seasons change, so will this installation, making the invisible visible and showing the beauty of this gentle wilderness. My ‘mobiles,’ coupled with my paintings and photography, allow me to share so many diverse moments in time,” Ms. Smith said. “I call these works ‘Portals and Pathways,’ something that is beyond an imagined landscape. The imagery is at once healing and beautiful and slightly fantastic.
“At the same time, it is a real investigation of a Mesa of More-Phosis. It is an experience that is hopefully inspiring to viewers and further inspires them to take their own personal journeys and joyous walks into More Mesa.”
The English artist, who lives and works in Santa Barbara, attended Central Saint Martins-University of the Arts in London, where she received her bachelor’s degree with honors in three-dimensional and theater design. After a successful career as a theater-set designer in Europe and the U.S., she returned to painting and photography full time.
Ms. Smith has exhibited her work nationally in galleries and museums, including the BG Gallery, Bergamot Station in Santa Monica; Neutra Museum Gallery in Silverlake; Core Contemporary in Las Vegas; Palm Springs Art Museum in Palm Desert; San Luis Obispo Museum of Art in San Luis Obispo; Sullivan Goss: An American Gallery in Santa Barbara; Westmont Ridley-Tree Museum of Art in Montecito and A.I.R Gallery in Brooklyn, among many others.
As an artist, art educator and president of the Art Council Westmont Ridley-Tree Museum of Art, she also founded a nonprofit organization, Art Walk for Kids/Adults, with outreach programs for artists with disabilities throughout Santa Barbara County.
She has created art curriculums used by the Santa Barbara County Arts Commission for at-risk and developmentally disabled youth and adults and Hope School Art Programs. She also curates and juries for community art exhibitions, local schools and art groups.
Her programs have received awards from former U.S. Rep. Lois Capps and Hannah-Beth Jackson when the former state senator was a member of the Assembly.