About Gay Smith
Gertrude Graham Smith, nicknamed Gay, is a studio potter and teaching artist. She has been single firing porcelain ware in a soda kiln since 1993. She held artist-in-residencies at the Archie Bray Foundation in Helena, Montana and at Penland School in Penland, NC. Her teaching credits include workshops at Penland, Haystack, Harvard, and Findhorn, Scotland. Her work is in collections including the Mint Museum in Charlotte, NC, and Yingge Ceramics Museum in Taiwan. Her work is in numerous publications such as Making Marks and Functional Pottery by Robin Hopper, and Working with Clay by Susan Peterson; she’s been featured on the cover of Ceramics Monthly magazine. Grant awards include a North Carolina Arts Council Visual Artist Fellowship and two Regional Artist Project Grants. She’s served on the boards of North Carolina Pottery Center and of Penland School of Crafts.
These days, I reflect on the relevance of living as a practicing artist with our planet facing enormous challenges. I imagine how the work of my hands and heart may be of benefit. Perhaps, working as a potter develops beneficial qualities: caring attention, commitment, honesty, courage, passion, hard work, love of beauty, and a willingness to get one’s hands dirty. Engaging daily in the primordial, mysterious act of creation with earth, water, fire, air, the essential raw materials of which we and the pots are made, links us with all earthly life.
Simple pottery, like cups, are made to hold and serve nourishment. Do intentionally made pots carry some ineffable ability to transform and heal? What may be embedded in the stone of fired clay by the alchemical bond between material, process, maker, and person. What is conveyed through use or enjoyment? I’m intending a reality where compassion arises in the heart when hand embraces handle.