Hope is the Thing with Feathers
Heavy on symbolism and aesthetic appeal, one can appreciate Jerrod Smith’s artwork on many different levels—simply as beautiful arrangements of imagery or as something as deep as a profound dissection of the human condition. These are his ideas about life made manifest.
“It’s my means of communication, so I want to share these views and ideas with other people,” Smith said. “I take my inspiration from my every day life and feel it necessary to project my thoughts by means of my art.”
Smith began to realize that a lot of the ideas he translates into artwork have to do with hope for a promising future—hope for a better society and a growing personal view. Another major theme in his work is “insecurity.”
“Everyone has issues with self image. It’s often not just physical but also how individuals view expressing their thoughts,” Smith said. “My work has evolved into expressing the ideas of self-image and the way people in our world treat each other. We all have the opportunity to express ourselves and do our part to change those things in which we disagree. It is hard to see past being such a small entity, but even the little things we are capable of can be a step to changing those things that should matter most.”
A recurring and age old symbol used in his work is the image of birds. Sometimes they represent thoughts; other times a flock represents a society. When a human figure appears with bird’s wings, the wings’ state of completion indicates where the figure is psychologically. For instance, skeletal wings may indicate that the figure is not secure with his or herself at all.
“If it’s a completely finished wing, it communicates the idea of them being a stable person,” Smith said. “I try to use it to communicate vulnerability and insecurity—everything you would think about if you saw a bird that couldn’t fly.”
Old photographs spark his creativity because they capture moments in a person’s life and once discovered and given a knew life are revitalized from the reality that they would one day be nothing more than faded memories.
“I think what really triggered that whole deal was going to antique shops and thrift stores and seeing these old images and all the things that people dump. They take it to these places and leave these precious items behind for someone else to rummage through.”
Though he sometimes incorporates his own photography, he ages much of his materials to give the illusion of the wearing of time and uses techniques to make even photos snapped that same day look like they’ve been carried around in a wallet for a decade or sat under a piece of glass in someone’s home for a hundred years.
“I think it’s interesting to incorporate the old with the new, kind of like taking the past and making it part of the future. Giving it a new home,” he said.
Smith will use artificially aged pictures of his friends in an upcoming series of work. “I’m going to start transitioning into some ideas I’ve had for a long time for large format pieces, and also doing some more three-dimensional pieces that include more casting,” he said.
He’s getting plenty of practice making casts as a studio assistant for sculptor, David Phelps. Smith aids in the preparation work for Phelps before his pieces go to the foundry, like detailing imperfections out of the wax so they make a flawless final bronze piece.
Smith’s trademark style is unmistakable, but he’s always exploring new ideas and innovating new methods to express them. His layered, assembled approach stems from his desire to never restrain his media. “Who wants to become stale because they were afraid to try something new?”
Art lovers have certainly agreed with him. Smith’s work has been featured in a remarkable number of galleries and shows across the state, and he has several coming up in the next few months.
Smith will display pieces at 611 Creative in Downtown OKC, March 27, 7 p.m. to 11p.m. and will be a featured artist at Dreamer Concepts in Norman, March 29 at 7 p.m. The exhibit will run through May 10. He will also have a solo exhibition April 4 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the AKA Gallery in the Paseo District, and will be featuring work at Flip’s Wine Bar and Trattoria through May and into the first part of June.
“I want people to come out to shows. I want to meet people, and continue to do what I’m doing,” he said.