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 Dolph Smith  (1933 - )

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Lived/Active: Tennessee      Known for: regionalist watercolor painting, mixed media, book art, teaching

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:

Dolph Smith has never lived more than an hour’s drive from where he was born in Memphis, Tennessee.  His home/studio of thirty years in midtown and the Memphis College of Art where he taught for thirty years were only ten minutes from where he was born.  Until he moved with wife Jessie to a new home/studio 50 miles away in the countryside, he had not come very far in life.

At Memphis College of Art he taught Painting, Drawing in early years, and, in the late 70’s, developed a Hand Papermaking and Book Arts program called "The Flying Vat."  Dolph retired in 1995 and was elected Professor Emeritus.  In 2004, he was awarded Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts, Memphis College of Art.

Dolph's art works ranged over the years from watercolors and drawings into years of paperworks and sculpture and he's now involved with creating one of a kind handmade books. He has over 1,200 works in collections nationally including Japan and China and has been featured in Surface Design Journal, Hand Papermaking, The Complete Printmaker and was profiled with nine other American bookmakers in The Penland Book of Handmade Books.

Dolph travels nationally to teach including: Penland School, Arrowmont, Haystack, Oregon School of Arts and Craft, Appalachian Center, and Forum in Australia. Often a juror and lecturer, he is now working from a studio called Tennarkippi Field on Hurricane Hill in Western Tennessee.

Artist Statement

"Currently working with creating unique books as kinetic sculpture. I see the book as a quite animated three dimensional object with moving parts. A book has 30 pages, I see 30 moving parts plus the covers. I have found a niche apart from the traditional pop-up. I believe the illustrations in a 3-D object should also be 3-D!"


This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Dolph Smith has literally flown around the world teaching the making of books, as far away as Australia. His skill at teaching plus his humor makes him dearly loved. Retired from a long university career, he is now very selective about where he will teach. He frequently shares his passion for bookmaking at Penland, Arrowmont and Haystack. And the Eureka Springs School of the Arts is very fortunate to have him back again for one week this August.

His own books which he creates are as much sculpture as book and combine the use of many different techniques. Yet, he adheres to the traditional structure of a book as containing pages, a text block and a cover. In his class he shares his skills and knowledge in a playful and enjoyable way. He encourages experimentation and problem solving with various materials. Glass, metal, wood and polycarbonate are used to construct the covers, while traditional paper folios are stitched together to make the text block.

I’ve known Dolph for a long time. When I first met him he was teaching drawing at Memphis Art Academy and painting large beautiful watercolors. Frequently he would share with me his latest idea of getting the best out of his students. I remember a drawing technique using a paper cup full of ink with a pin hole in the bottom. He wanted his students to loosen up by using this unusual method. And then there was the time he put all his students on a city bus and had them sketch the people they were passing. He wanted them to learn to make quick sketches. Dolph's teaching is as creative as his own work.

Eureka Springs School of the Arts, Eleanor Lux, Founder and Board Member

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
A painter and educator, he was art director at the Ward Archer Association in Memphis from 1964-67.  He was illustrator for the Delta Review Magazine and Mid-South Magazine, 12/1971. From 1964 for many years, he was assistant professor painting and drawing at the Memphis Academy Arts, which was absorbed by Memphis State University.  He was also visiting instructor of painting at Southwestern College, 1966-68. 

He had been a student at Memphis State University; Memphis Academy Arts, B.F.Art, 1960.

Exhibitions; Watercolor USA, Springfield, Missouri, 1965; American Watercolor Society, New York City, 1966; Invitational, Brooks Memorial  Art Gallery, 1969; Brooks Memorial  Art Gallery, 1965 (solo) & Charles Bowers Memorial  Museum, Santa Ana, California, 1967 (solo); Memphis (Tennessee ) Academy of Arts, 1970s.

Awards: first prize for watercolor, Mid-South Exhibition, Brooks Memorial  Art Gallery, 1964.

Peter Hastings Falk, Editor, Who Was Who in American Art

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