Michael Smithhammer relocated to Indiana in 2000 when his wife got a position at IUP as a professor of fiber arts.. Although he works in many media, he particularly likes clay. He specializes in hand-built pieces. He uses an electric kiln in his home but will get different effects by using other types of kilns. When he’s not working as an artist or teaching at Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh, Michael is a practicing massage therapist in Indiana.
Over the years in a variety of locations I have managed to maintain a steady flow of work in the mediums of pen and pencil, a variety of paint mediums, wood, ceramics. as well as photographic and digital imagery.
The choice of materials has been determined by the different circumstances I have worked myself into. When I first started, painting and drawing were the most readily available mediums in which to work. As the facilities for working three dimensionally became available I started producing objects in wood, clay, metal, fibers and plastics. Each material provides a particular challenge and resistance that stimulates and feeds the process and my desire to fabricate.
The place I happen to be in also plays a part in the outcome. Whether it is a room in a home, a studio at a school, or a studio carved out of some large industrial space, the atmosphere affects the work. At different schools I came into contact with different audiences or team situations in which to interact. Schools also provided me access to a wider range of tools and equipment. Just after leaving those environments the types of interactions, tools and equipment became much more basic again. Over the years, as I purchase my own equipment and modify my work space, I move towards the complexities of multimedia work once more
Even though the images and objects I create may strike one at first as looking rather fantastic and unrealistic they are the embodiment of something I believe lies beyond abstraction.
The work attempts to synthesize certain qualities from the world around me. And I believe that others will benefit from spending time with the manifestations of this view. Any given work starts out from a specific impetuous; some line, color, texture or pattern that has struck me as “outstanding”. Something resonates between myself and that quality. It then moves off on its own track and I begin to follow. Letting each element blossom and grow. I work to keep up with the suggestions that occur to me along the way concerning composition, color, medium, etc.
If I maintain the pace with a certain rigor something of value is brought to the surface. These are things that I chose not to transmit through words. It is a visual poetry whose value is in direct proportion with the degree of honest effort exerted to unearth it.