Surfacing Series is comprised of much smaller works (7 x 5 in) on either wooden panels or acrylic rice paper. In some instances, "intentional gatherings" of works have been grouped together to form one larger work, as in the case of Surfacing, which is one large panel, 28 x 70 inches, comprised of 56 wooden pieces, each 7 x 5 inches. Mediums vary from a combination of charcoal, sumi ink and/or oil in layered, monochromatic tones of black, white and blue-grey.
Drawings on acrylic rice paper in the same series are all individually framed and presented as unique pieces. The intimacy of the scale (7 x 5 in) contrasts with the physicality of the layering involved in working up many of the surfaces here and the artist became aware of the emotional release. She states, “I felt more and more compelled to keep doing these little works, not knowing where they were taking me, or what they meant, but finding consolation and balm in the process. I realized much later that they were a direct reaction to the corresponding events over the course of the summer; I had lost my desire for exuberant color and went out and stocked up on charcoal and sumi ink.” While most of the work in the Surfacing series are miniature abstractions and patterns – sometimes combined with strands of thread, here and there one might find trees, forests, flowers, birds, and mountains as well as hand-scribed entries from the artist’s journal or a quotation from a revered individual.
Smolen explains, “The emotional impetus for the series was, initially, the feeling of going under, feeling radically hopeless and despondent, not just because of professional disappointments due to the pandemic lockdown, but also, because of the traumas and cruelty which seemed to escalate and pervade our news cycle in a torturous, repetitive manner. The work ended up becoming a lifeline of sorts; something to hold onto and pull myself through the storm.”
Smolen is deeply connected to and concerned about the natural world. She ascribes to Edward O. Wilson’s concept of “biophilia,” the word he coined to describe humankind’s deep affinity for nature. The artist believes nature is, as Wilson describes it, “the refuge of the spirit, remote, static, richer even than imagination.”
A former gallerist, the artist decided to return to her own practice in 2018 when she closed the brick and mortar TheoGanz Studio on Main Street in Beacon where she presently lives with her husband, David, and their dog, Henry. She continues to represent original Inuit graphics and carvings from Kinngait (formerly Cape Dorset) under TheoGanz Studio. Her art studio is located in Newburgh, New York at Regal Bag Studios on the waterfront of the Hudson River.
Updated Dec 25, 2020
Sleeping Whales and Flukes drawings added April 2021 - ongoing and continuing the Surfacing Series. All drawings of the whales and the Gatherings in this series were photographed by
Lori Adams, photographer.
Surfacing Series 2020 –