Gertrude Graham Smith
Gertrude Graham Smith, nicknamed Gay, is a studio potter and teaching artist single firing porcelain ware in a soda kiln near Penland, NC. She held artist-in-residencies at the Archie Bray Foundation in Helena, Montana and at Penland School in Penland, NC. Her teaching credits include workshops at Penland, Haystack, Harvard, and Findhorn, Scotland. Her work is represented internationally, is in collections such as the Mint Museum in Charlotte, NC, and Yingge Ceramics Museum in Taiwan. She’s been featured on the cover of Ceramics Monthly magazine, and her work is in numerous publications such as Making Marks and Functional Pottery by Robin Hopper, and Working with Clay by Susan Peterson. Grant awards include a North Carolina Arts Council Visual Artist Fellowship and two Regional Artist Project Grants. She currently serves on the Board of Trustees of Penland School of Crafts.
These days, I contemplate the relevance of living as a practicing artist with our planet facing extraordinary shifts. I imagine how the work of my hands and heart may be of benefit. Perhaps, working as a potter develops beneficial qualities: caring attention, commitment, honesty, courage, passion, hard work, love of beauty, and a willingness to get one’s hands dirty. Engaging daily in the primordial, mysterious act of creation with earth, water, fire, air, the essential raw materials of which we and the pots are made, links us with all earthly life.
Simple pottery, like cups, are made to hold and serve nourishment. Do consciously made pots carry some ineffable ability to transform and heal? What may be embedded in the stone of fired clay by the alchemical bond between material, process, and person. What is conveyed through use or enjoyment? I’m intending a reality where compassion arises in the heart when hand embraces handle.