About Samantha Keely Smith

The work

My tumultuous fictional landscapes represent our delusional relationship with nature. In my current series, The Illusion of Control, I evoke our awakening anxieties about our fraught and fragile place in the world. Referencing psychologist Ellen Langer’s studies into optimism bias, the series’ title speaks of common tendencies to believe we control outcomes far beyond our purview. As psychologists recognize, an unrealistic sense of agency might be a pleasant ego defense but my work demonstrates the chaotic consequences of a culture arrogantly minimizing its role in environmental crisis and believing we control nature.

I create my paintings’ layers of complex color by interspersing traditional methods with pouring, staining and deconstruction using solvents. By mindfully exploring my anxieties when balancing the manageable and chaotic components of my process, I consider the limits of my own control. I try to make good use of accidental moments and value the beauty in happenstance. Exploring my ability to create, rebuild, or accept that my actions caused destruction, gives me opportunities for insight into our societal relationship with environmental responsibility.

The imagery resulting from this process has moments of harmony and unity within turmoil but the overall impression is nature in flux. My landscapes are amorphous and imprecise. They are not literal illustrations of particular places or even elements. They might be sky, land or water. But they are clearly representations of both natural energy and our human nature as we grapple with our place, and role, in an ever-changing, sensitive, living, and constantly reactive environment.

Bio

Born in Harlow, Essex, England, New York-based artist Samantha Keely Smith moved to the United States as a child with her family.

Smith started her College Education at the School of Visual Arts, NYC. She also attended the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey, earning her BFA in Painting, with Honors.

Social links

Samantha in the studio working on Kindred, 2011 - photo by Thomas Feiner

Samantha in the studio working on Kindred, 2011 - photo by Thomas Feiner