The University of Maine at Presque Isle’s Reed Fine Art Gallery will present Tea Stains: bind. mark. stitch. by Orono Artist Susan Smith from March 6 through April 11, 2015. The public is invited to view the exhibition throughout the show’s run and attend the Opening Reception on March 6 from 5-7 p.m., which is being held in conjunction with the First Friday Art Walk. Smith will conduct an Artist Talk during the reception at 5:30 p.m.
Susan Smith merges her interests as landscaper, painter, creator of environments, and social activist into her current practice. People’s basic need for security is at the root of Smith’s work, recently taking the form of an installation in which 700 participants created their own ideas of home. Using objects from shuttered businesses, abandoned and foreclosed houses, as well as the objects of daily life people take for granted, Smith creates installations and participatory performance events.
Smith has exhibited work in both group and solo exhibitions, and was recently selected to participate in the annual selection of Maine artists at the Harlow Gallery in Hallowell, Maine, as well as curator for group shows around the state. She has attended residencies and assisted with workshops on methods and materials at the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, and conducted experimental drawing classes for the Maine Art Educator conference. Smith holds a BFA in painting and drawing from the University of Maine, and an MFA in Intermedia. Currently pursuing an Interdisciplinary Ph.D., Smith works as coordinator for Lord Galleries and in the department of New Media on the University of Maine, Orono, campus.
The special exhibition Smith is bringing to the Reed Gallery, Tea Stains: bind. mark. stitch., evolved from an interest in collecting materials. Smith commented: “Tea bags, when broken down into their individual parts, consist of leaves and grounds, strings and translucent paper that reveal its history. This accumulation drove my curiosity, and research confronted me with the disparity between how tea is produced and the aura that surrounds it: as a calming cup that nourishes body and soul, and yet, the oppressive conditions the women responsible for harvesting tea endure.”
“Many spend part of their day scavenging for water for their families. The bitter irony of that lack of access to water, while picking tea for the rest of the world to drink, is the basis for this work,” she said. “Through the layering of pigment, organic material and the recycled fragments of tea, I am attempting to honor these women by tainting the canvas with the history of use and misuse.”
The work featured in the Reed Gallery exhibit uses many traditional (paint, wax, linen) and experimental materials (rust, and as one could guess, tea bags).
“Featuring Smith in the Reed brings our state art community that much closer. We are thrilled to share innovative work, being done right here in Maine, with our student and regional population,” Reed Gallery Director Heather Sincavage said. “Smith’s work is a beautiful representation of her personal routine of making tea and how her ability to do so further comments on global politics.”
In addition to its Opening Reception on March 6, Tea Stains: bind. mark. stitch. will be open for the First Friday Art Walk on April 3 from 5-7 p.m. Please follow gallery happenings on the Reed Gallery Facebook page, www.facebook.com/ReedArtGallery. The public is encouraged to come out to First Friday in March and April and attend these free events. Light refreshments will be served.
The Reed Fine Art Gallery is open Monday through Saturday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The gallery is closed Sundays and University holidays. For more information about this event, please contact Sincavage at 768-9442 or firstname.lastname@example.org.