Joan Skelton Smith Statement


I grew up in the Cold War world of the Cuban missile crisis, the Kennedy assassination, the Vietnam War and the Nixon impeachment. I remember elementary school bomb drills, bomb shelter salesmen and wondering if I could get to my friend's house before the missiles struck Dallas. As a child I would climb up into the tree tops seeking a refuge and a sanctuary. My childhood experiences in the woods have been the inspiration for much of my studio practice.

For me one of the attractions of tree imagery is that in them we see manifest the enduring forces of nature; gravity, water, light, wind. I have always found reassurance in the perseverance of these old trees that have stood what ‘the ravages of time.’

Since the end of the Cold War, I have watched the world descend into chaos; I see the natural world which I always believed would persevere threatened by man's political, economic and environmental actions.

I think of myself as a humanist, an artist whose practice is fully engaged in the real world. I see my studio practice as a way of trying to come to terms with that reality and as a vehicle by which to share my response with others.

I believe that we cannot depend on 'those who are supposed to take care of us' to make the world a better place. I believe that we each have to take some personal responsibility by doing whatever we can. What I can do is express my reaction by creating artwork.