Keith Wallace Smith is a figurative sculptor and educator working primarily in ceramics and cast metal. He received a bachelor of science in art education at Morgan State University and went on to attend graduate school at The University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida, where he received a MFA in 1999. He is currently Associate Professor of Ceramics and Sculpture at Kennesaw State University.
Prior to his tenure at Kennesaw State University Smith’s teaching and administrative experience has included positions as associate educator for the Baltimore Museum of Art, program coordinator of Art in State Buildings and teaching lab specialist at The University of Florida. He also received positions as visiting assistant professor at Georgia Southern University and lecturer/technician at Northern Kentucky University.
Smith’s work employs the use of varied scale, fragmentation and gesture to approach the figure; he shares his process and hand-building techniques with students and the general public through teaching and workshops. His work is included in the collection of the Montgomery Museum of Art, Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts, Contemporary Ceramic Arts Museum, Izmit-Değirmendere, Turkey and in several teaching collections throughout the southeast such as Florida Atlantic University, Georgia Southern University and Appalachian State University.
Smith continues to exhibit regionally and nationally, his work has been published in Confrontational Clay by Judith Shwartz, The Figure in Clay I & II by Suzanne Tourtillottt, 500 Figures in Clay: Ceramic Artists celebrate the Human Form by Veronika Gunter, “Poetic Expressions of Morality: Figurative Ceramics From The Porter/Price Collection”, Clay and Glazes for the Potter by Daniel Rhodes and Enough Violence: Artists Speak Out by Paul Schifino.
As an artist, my primary interest is in creating narrative work that connects with the viewer on an intuitive level. This narrative is often expressed through the use of the figure, implied motion, materiality, scale, process and form.
Although inspired from folklore or my own experiences, beliefs or concerns the work is created with the expectation that people will find in it something they relate to personally. I attempt to create a sense of empathy or contemplation, conveying motion and emotion, through gesture, expression and color. Installation, modeling, surface and composition are used to draw in the viewer and further inform the work. To affect how the viewer relates to the work I often change the size of the piece, working on a monumental or intimate scale. Use of monumental scale and isolation of the main areas of gesture focus the viewers’ attention and encroach upon their space, in essence magnifying the work and the issues it addresses. Use of intimate scale creates a sense of voyeurism, looking in on a moment without the knowledge of the subject.
The functional work I create is narrative in that it tells a story about materiality; often relating to a place, a time or objects that reflect various ideas of containment such as industrial storage. Through interaction with the work the user becomes part of that narrative.
The work utilizes scale and form to indirectly suggest ideas such as strength, pressure and volume. Ultimately, my work is designed with craftsmanship and function in mind while creating a sense of play or interaction that would not otherwise be experienced through a purely utilitarian object.