On walks, Cheryl Mackey Smith takes time to notice the seemingly endless patterns and random occurrences in nature. The North Carolina ceramics artist then transforms them into elegantly textured wall art.
The artist: Born in Schenectady, Smith grew up in Scotia, NY, with parents who encouraged her interest in art. At age 17, she moved with her family to Florida.
She received a BS degree in elementary education at Jacksonville, University and later added art education to her certificate.
While working as an art educator for 38 years, Smith also earned her master’s degree in art education from the University of Central Florida in 2001.
The studio: Since 2016, Smith has worked from her home in Fairview, NC, near Asheville. From her added-on studio, the artist has a great view of the mountains, trees — and birds as they come and feed.
Prior to moving to North Carolina from Florida, she worked at the McRae Art Studios in Winter Park.
In the beginning: Smith began her art career at Jacksonville University studying under the late Mon Quan in the 1970’s.
After painting graphic-stylized watercolors of abstracted mountains and marsh scenes, Smith would cut her paintings into small squares and circles or roll and fold them into tubes and other shapes to develop her repetitive designs. She loved piecing together the smaller elements to create a large piece of art.
The art & materials: Individually hand-formed ceramic pieces that are arranged and framed.
Pieces are fired in a kiln (and often pit-fired to add a depth of color), laid out and arranged on an archival backing before being framed in a shadowboxed frame. Prices range from $300 for 12-inch-by-12-inch piece to $3,500 for 40-inche-by-40-inch work.
Inspiration: The repetition in nature … whether organic or structured.
“I hike throughout western North Carolina searching for patterns found randomly along the path.”
Awards: Many, including:
- First place in ceramics at the Armonk Outdoor Art Show (NY), 2021.
- An award of merit at the Winter Park (FL) Sidewalk Art Festival, 2021.
- President’s award at the Gasparilla Festival of the Arts in Tampa, 2020.
Honors: Recently accepted into the Southern Highland Craft Guild in Asheville.
- Participating in the Gasparilla Festival of the Arts, March 5-6.
- The Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival, March 18-20.
- Artisphere, in Greenville, May 6-8.
Where to buy: cmackeysmith.com. She will make pieces in specific sizes to suit your needs.
- Facebook: cmackeysmithart
- Instagram: @cmackeysmith