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 Fraser Smith  (1958 - )

About: Fraser Smith
 

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Lived/Active: Florida      Known for: trompe l’oeil wood sculpture

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Biography from Stuart Kingston Galleries:
Artist Statement:

I make trompe l’oeil wood sculptures of items made of fabric or leather.   My subject matter is drawn from things that we tend to save, or cherish even after they are no longer useful; an old jacket that may not fit anymore, but we still keep it in the back of the closet, quilts, farmer’s hats, and other items we might want to keep simply for the memories they hold.  I want the works to look like things that have been used.  You also may see some imperfections, or flaws in the wood; small knots, perhaps a discolored area.  I don’t plan these things, but I do enjoy them in a piece, as long as they remain fairly subtle.  They are a quiet visual reminder that the work is carved from wood.

Like all trompe l’oeil artists, I’m trying to challenge the viewer, but I want to take it beyond the simple mastery of technique.  In some works, like my quilts, I’m attempting to combine design, and use of color, with an interesting, but unexpected object.  On the hats, I’ll sometimes use vague references to obscure people or ideas that may, or may not be recognized by the viewer.  On other hats, the label might be for a non-existent business, or product that might seem perfectly plausible, but when you actually think it through, it’s unlikely that it is a real place, or company.  In all my works I want viewer to find the object interesting, but initially feel that it’s a bit “out of place”.  I want them to think, “Well, that’s interesting, but why is it there?”  When they discover that it’s made of wood, they have to re-evaluate.

“Fraser Smith is like Merlin the Magician, ‘wild man of the wood,’ the powerful figure of British folklore.”
Rhonda Sonnenberg, Fiberarts Magazine

“Forty-two squares, thirty-two pieces per square, fifteen stitches per piece.  The thought of sewing a quilt is daunting.  Now imagine carving one.  But that is exactly how Fraser Smith… makes his living.”
Jim Clement, Fine Woodworking Magazine

“With Fraser Smith, you have to rethink reality.”
Alison Stein Wellner, American Style Magazine

“Stand back 3 feet, and the look is impressive.  Move to within inches, and you may be startled by the power of the illusion.  Fraser’s slight of hand has worked.”
Roger Schroeder, Wood Carving Illustrated

“A woodcarver, and painter, working in an original, and unusual, art form he invented…”
Mary Daniels, Chicago Tribune

“It’s amazing… it’s close to one of a kind.”
Art Keeble, “American Quilter”, on Lifetime Network

“Drawing closer, … the viewer finally perceives that she has been the victim of a visual prank worthy of a 16th century Mannerist.”
Dorothy Joiner, Surface Design Magazine

“Fraser Smith is a man of contradiction.”
 Susan Thurston, St. Petersburg Times

“He’s very accomplished at what he does.  People often wouldn’t realize what it was.  When they did, they were shocked!”
Mark Feingold, Clayton Galleries

“It’s the first time we’ve ever seen anything like this.”
Meredith Schroeder, Chairwoman of the museum, and co-founder of the American Quilters Society

“I contend that you could put five Mark Rothko masterpieces in a room with five Fraser Smith sculptures, open it to the general public and guess who would win the popularity contest? Yep—Fraser Smith.”
John Foster, “accidental mysteries” blog, accidentalmysteries.blogspot.com

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