Robin Cole Smith
My work represents an exploration of an inner wilderness by way of an outer one; it hinges on my belief that the natural world is not only an inherent part of us as human beings (and we of it), but that it is the original, exquisitely sensitive mirror in which we find our own inner terrain and wildness reflected. My work has always been an act of reverence for the natural world. There is an element of science in it, in the desire to study and observe. But there is an element of spirit, too, in the continual reaching for something just beyond the visible.
Nature and those that inhabit it—our human selves included—possess a magic for me, one which I attempt to elicit by working within the bounds of realism as one might work within a poetic form, utilizing the formal constraints to evoke something beyond the boundary of those very limitations. I strive to carve out a compelling space in which those peripheral presences can stand forth, a space of co-existence with both the seen and the unseen. This idea of continuity and reciprocity between landscape and psyche is reflected in many of our myths, legends, and stories both ancient and modern. I am drawn to these primal sources and archetypes of our human stories—stories which, at a fundamental level, are nearly always developed in direct response to our wild, earthly home as a way of explaining, understanding, and relating to its elemental forces.
In the past, the immediate, intimate, intuitive quality of drawing media held my exclusive attention and loyalty. More recently, I have found my subject matter crying out for a versatility that would allow me to dip into the archetypal, the illusionistic, the seductively lit or hauntingly atmospheric that offers as much presence to the light and air as it does to the landscape, the object, or the human face. Though the devoted naturalist in me is always present in my work, my images now come as often from within as without, informed as significantly by emotional texture as observation. My objectives with this work center primarily around both living and cultivating an experience of conscious observation of the outer world, imaginative perception of the inner world, and a longed-for instinctive understanding of both.