Rhonda J. Smith is a practicing artist and retired professor of Art who is committed to advancing processes that explore and redefine what printmaking can be. She uses non-toxic inks and the non-traditional approach of mounting her prints onto archival boards. Smith received her BFA from Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond, Kentucky and her MFA from the University of North Texas in Denton, Texas. Her work has been exhibited regionally and nationally. A list of recent exhibits can be found under Discover on her website. Smith has traveled extensively in Europe, Africa, China, Peru, India and the United States. Born in Fort Worth Texas she has lived in Kentucky, New Mexico, West Virginia, Virginia and now in Keedysville, Maryland. Since 1987 Smith has been a professor of Art at Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, West Virginia where she currently serves as a Master Teacher.
About the Work
Travel and encounters with the art and culture of other peoples is a powerful motivator for printmaker Rhonda J. Smith. The themes of her intaglio prints and collages involve journey, excursions that occur both within the process of creating and in the physical encounters with places and cultures.
Like the layers of journey that reveal themselves over time, Smith uses a matrix created on acrylic sheets printed in layers using non-toxic inks. Her printing plates are repurposed sheets of Plexiglas originally used to protect the table tops in her studio. After years of cutting and gluing on these transparent surfaces, she was preparing to toss them out but decided to try using them to make prints.
By overprinting the various plates, and creating some with specific images, she found the surfaces produced a tangle of lines suggesting maps and coordinates. For Smith, the process of travel and printmaking are similar. Despite assumptions about where the journey may lead, she is always surprised by what she eventually discovers.
Travels in West African led Smith to consider her work as a form of talisman or amulet, which are considered by the Taureg and Bamana peoples to contain the power of knowledge attainable only through personal commitment. Art is a similar investment that requires both the maker and the viewer to seek a greater understanding in order to fully appreciate the power within the object. Each print, each collage Smith creates is a talisman, a prayer and a wish to share with the viewer.
About Middle Bridge Studio
Middle Bridge refers to one of 5 stone bridges that spanned Antietam Creek in Washington County, Maryland during the time of the Civil War. The Middle Bridge located on Boonsboro Pike near Sharpsburg was the only one of the 5 bridges that did not survive to the present day. Forty days of rain in 1889 weakened the stone piers and it was condemned and replaced with a modern overpass. When I first moved to this area the beauty of these arched stone bridges sparked my curiosity. My little home/studio is located just over a mile from where Middle Bridge once stood.
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