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Sharl G. Smith

Repetition and refinement are the basis for Sharl G. Smith's intricately beaded three-dimensional sculptures.

Loss - Bead Sculpture by Sharl Smith

Sharl G. Smith, Loss, 2021. Photo courtesy of artist. 

Originally from Jamaica, Sharl G. Smith is an artist based in of Waterloo, Ontario. Completely self-taught, her work is informed by her architectural background and experience working in Japanese joinery at a Zen Buddhist design firm in California. From that experience came a deep appreciation for the handcrafted and the idea of the ‘process as practice.’

Holding an Honours Bachelor of Architecture degree, she creates complex three-dimensional sculptures with beads. Bead stitching, a form of bead-weaving commonly used for jewellery, emphasizes refinement and repetition. Smith began working with this intricate and time-intensive art form as a way of coping with years of physical and mental health challenges. 

The Void (Bead Sculpture) - by Sharl Smith

Sharl G. Smith, The Void, 2018. Photo courtesy of Ivana Popic. 

AGO: What was the inspiration for this artwork or series?

Smith: I experienced a traumatic triggering event while constructing this which made me reevaluate everything I was doing. This sparked off a series of new ideas about being more free and abstract as my focus before this was geometry and regular polyhedra. So I’m changing directions in my art practice for a while and expanding on these two works. Loss is a work in progress. The Void is a completed sculpture from 2018. 

AGO: Tell us about a place or a space where you most love making your work?

Smith: I share a large loft studio space with six other artists. I love working there. We have magnificent south-east facing windows that let in beautiful bright natural light all year long. The group of artists that makes up the KW Artists Co-op is a solid support group. We share our anxieties and struggle, everything from pricing to depression to family issues. It’s a great feeling to know that you are not alone. 

AGO: Are you in dialogue with any other artists or creative peers about your practice? If so, how does this dialogue feed your work?

SmithBefore COVID-19, I was meeting with a group of other ‘recovering’ artists and we were discussing Julia Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way. It was very healing for all of us and the exercises sparked a lot of deep reflection. It also showed us the value not only of our talents but of our lived experiences.

Follow Sharl Smith on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter @sundropsstudio.

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