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Rhonda Smith: Oh That Beautiful Planet, What Have We Done?

  • Kingston Gallery 450 Harrison Avenue, No. 43 Boston MA 02118 USA (map)

SOUTH END BOSTON, MA (April 16, 2019) – In her latest exhibition, Oh That Beautiful Planet, What Have We Done? Rhonda Smith transforms found materials along with wire mesh dripping with clay, paint, netting, and wood - into sculptures as symbols of urban architecture in conflict with the insistence of nature. The installations are an homage to the beauty and intricacies of natural phenomena and their battle with humankind. The series, Oh That Beautiful Planet, What Have We Done? is on view from June 5th through 30th, with an opening reception on First Friday June 7th from 5-8pm. Smith’s new work is a departure from her previous focus on painting and allows a multidimensional exploration of forms; the power of her message has never been more strongly felt than in this exhibition. The show is in two parts. The front room houses individual pieces that comprise a world of reexamined natural forms: an element from the periodic table, satellite views of earth, a map, wormholes and more. The second room holds an installation, a battlefield between humankind and nature. In this exhibition Smith has constructed lilting model skyscrapers between one and four feet in height, containing stairs and ladders that go nowhere. These buildings stand as the human intrusion in the ongoing global destruction of nature. Her skyscrapers mirror towering urban structures that are both amazing feats of human intelligence and also brash evidence of human hubris and the desire to dominate. Looming up behind the imagined city is nature at her reactive best. “We have these elongated boxes in which we cannot easily ascend or descend without assistance. I like the idea of assembling a city but am also disturbed by my own urban surroundings.” With this statement Smith emphasizes the perpetual conflict of human against nature, the adaptive, intelligent and ever evolving force. As Rhonda Smith developed her sculptures they began to metaphorically speak to one another. She nurtured this relationship structurally and through their positioning until their conversation and correspondence could be viscerally felt, just as a canopy of trees whisper together and share roots. Within her scaffolding for each shape, Smith alters any formalism by bending and distorting the wire. As other materials are attached the forms establish a persona while their basic skeletons can still show through. A seasoned handling of color and the animation of wire and clay make this manipulation possible, and speaks to the source of her ideas which encompass the infinite forms of nature. This is Rhonda Smith’s first solo show as a Member of Kingston Gallery. Previous exhibitions of her work include Walking on Rock and Water, a solo show at UMass Amherst Hampden Gallery in 2017; Schemata, a two person show at the Chandler Gallery Maud Morgan Arts, Cambridge, MA in 2016; Fragile Navigation at Danforth Art Museum, Framingham, MA in 2012; and Particles and Waves at Iliad Contemporary, New York, NY in 2012. Her work is in many corporate and private collections. Smith’s education includes a BA from St. Lawrence University, Canton, NY and further education at the School of Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA, and the Cooperativa Mosaicisti, Ravenna, Italy. She has also been a fellow at the Vermont Studio Center. Rhonda Smith creates her work in the Boston area and also in southern Maine.