Katie Gingrass Gallery

Colette Odya Smith

I see my work as a forward-oriented participation in the tradition of the landscape genre. We each play our part in inventing, discovering or re-defining humanity's relationship with our environment. My exploration, while deeply personal and rooted in a life-long affinity for wet and rugged places, is my contribution to the collective aesthetic.

My ‘intimate landscapes’ as I call them, are filled with the stuff that once occupied the lower, nearly throwaway corners of grand history paintings. The water and stones beneath the feet of heroes and saints have come to center stage for me yet feel just as eloquent and just as evocative. What we see there depends on how we choose to look at it. For me, it’s all about what’s going on just beneath the surface. This imagery allows me endless ways to explore concepts of surface, depth, opacity, transparency, and of course, reflection. Creating with pastels and watercolor, I am charmed to be using the same elements of dust and water that I am drawn to paint.

By closely cropping and editing, I often purposely remove references of horizon and atmospheric perspective commonly dealt with in landscape. This creates issues of scale and orientation, sometimes forcing a total inversion of common perceptions. I love mixing reflected imagery with solid forms, begging the question of what is real and what is illusory. The artistic tension between representational appearance and its cause and meaning plays out in the edge I walk between abstraction and realism. These are for me, a mere hair’s breath apart and I want to live in both equally and comfortably. I am looking for that perfect edge.

Colette Odya Smith is a widely exhibited painter whose ‘intimate landscapes’ skirt the edge of realism and abstraction. A former art teacher, Ms. Smith has worked primarily in soft pastels for over 15 years, receiving many awards and honors. She is a signature member of the Pastel Society of America, Pastel Society of New Mexico, Landscape Artists International, Wisconsin Visual Artists, and the League of Milwaukee Artists.