Artist Statement & Biography:
For nearly 25 years Colette Odya Smith has been pursuing her love affair with pastels, exploring ways to express the mystery and wonder she feels in the ‘school’ of nature. While staying grounded in realism, especially her passion for water imagery, she pushes her work to the edge of abstraction and creates purposeful ambiguities to allow space for the viewer to ponder with her. She layers her pastels over a watercolor underpainting creating with the same elements of dust and water that she depicts. “I often obscure the customary references of horizon and atmospheric perspective. In this way easy identification of the landscape is downplayed. Context and scale become malleable. This allows a broader range of interpretations and frees me to move beyond the literal. I often mix reflected imagery with solid forms, begging the question of what is ‘real’ and what is illusory.”
Born in Milwaukee, she wanted to become an artist from the beginning. After getting her degree in Fine Art, Humanities, she taught art in public schools and raised two children. Discovering pastels in classes at the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, she has worked nearly exclusively with them ever since.
Ms. Smith has exhibited widely in the US and internationally including France, Germany and China. Her work has won many prestigious awards and she has been named a Master Pastellist by...