Crafts; Crafts: Ceramics; Visual Arts; Visual Arts: Photography; Visual Arts: Sculpture; Potter
Standing on a foundation of pot sherds left by the Timucua potters of centuries past, Herrick Smith was born and raised in Saint Augustine, Florida, and from a young age has appreciated the beauty found in nature. As a boy, he would often go adventuring in the coastal woods and subsequently developed a deep love for the natural processes found there. It is fitting that his first introduction to clay was the making of his boy-hood pinch pots from the same clay beds used by the Timucua so long ago. In high school and through the end of college he worked as a blacksmith at the Colonial Quarter, a museum about colonial Spanish Florida and earned his BA in Economics from the University of North Florida in 2013 with a minor in Environmental Science. While at college, searching for a creative outlet he took his first ceramics elective and continued to take elective courses and conduct independent research in ceramics during his time there. Several months after graduation he moved to Gardner Kansas and spent 8 months as an apprentice at Spinning Earth Pottery with Danny Meisinger.
During this apprenticeship Smith rapidly gained skill at the potter’s wheel with respect to functional pottery as well as the use of the wheel as a tool to create larger scale works of art. Nearing the end of his apprenticeship Smith was accepted to Graduate School and in the fall of 2014 he began graduate school at Fort Hays State University (FHSU). Seeking to establish a personal style, Smith began developing a thrown and altered cup form which opens itself to a variety of atmospheric effects. With a series of three of these at the 2015 NCECA Conference he won the Skutt Student Throwing Competition judged by Steven Hill and received the grand prize of the Steven Hill edition Skutt Potter’s Wheel. Smith exhibits nationally and internationally and is currently working with wheel thrown elements and sculptural forms in pursuit of an MFA in Ceramics at (FHSU) with the goal of becoming a professor of ceramics while remaining active in the gallery circuit.
The natural beauty of the estuarine and hammock environment of the North East Florida coast deeply impacts my forms and the patterns and textures applied to them. Especially beautiful are the delicate processes involved in the lives of small plants, mosses, and fungi and the many shapes allowing for the flourishing of these hardy little flora. The gentle and earthy color palette of the swamp merging with the forest floor is at once rich and full of life as well as calming and peaceful. Capturing the intrinsic beauty of color and form found in the sandy hammock environments just upland of the salty estuaries, the ceramic forms are organic and allow for a diversity of surface treatments. Utilizing a variety of glazes including some with natural ash components the work synthesizes highly technical firing methods and the aesthetics of atmospheric firing resulting in surfaces that bless the piece with anonymity of process and eternal variation. Recognizing the ever-present hardships in life the work allows the viewer to experience the embrace of nature and find refuge from the constant bombardment so often present in our contemporary culture. As creators of culture we as artists are called to create a good culture. I do this through the creation of objects that lack the facade of constructed meaning and exist to bring beauty, lacking pretention, into the lives of others. Training as a blacksmith also impacts the work through the methods involved and the rhythms of the fire as well as attention to detail and finishing processes. The beauty and power of time in concert with nature, displayed in subtle details translates nature into culture and affords the viewer a glimpse of the rare beauty seen by a walker on the paths lacing my native coast.