by Sara Farizan
NEWTON- We live in an age where oftentimes the wrong people are idealized. We put professional athletes on a pedestal one day, only to vilify them the next when they underperform, or dance at a club after losing the big game.
Box office celebrities become untouchable, a different class of person of almost God-like proportions with their chiseled good looks and public relations dream teams.
Ed Smith, hopes to remind the public of how to retain our humanity and remind ourselves of the Gods and Heroes ancient Greece once cherished.
Smith, has a list of accolades as long as Santa’s list of naughty and nice children, though he is too modest to ever boast about it.
He has had over 40 solo exhibitions, is a Guggenheim Fellow in Sculpture and Drawing as well as an Associate Fellow of the Royal British Society of Sculptors. His work has been reviewed by the New York Times, he has been a visiting artist, artist-in-residence and lecturer at countless universities and is currently a professor at Marist College.
It’s safe to say, the man is doing something right.
His latest exhibit, Small Gods and Heroes at Lasell College, showcases over twenty bronze figures which is impressive in itself. What is more impressive is that all of the pieces were churned out in only three years.
When I asked Smith how he managed to have such an epic show in a short amount of time, he explained, “I don’t do anything else. This is what I do. I don’t go to the movies or anything like that. I’m just in the studio.” It is this kind of work ethic and passion that has sustained Smith’s career for years.
Not only is Smith’s product impressive, but the passion and knowledge he has regarding the history behind his figures is evident.
His sculpture, “Harpy”, has a human leg holding up a grotesque, muddled, almost mutant-bunny like head. Smith explains that a harpy was a horrible, winged being that was created to enforce morality, a monster to chase your conscience.
What is also curious about this show are the parts missing within the pieces. Smith has looked back at Rodin’s idea of fragment, deliberately leaving out parts one would expect and leaving it up to the audience to use the power of suggestion, inspiring the audience to complete it themselves.
His piece, “Medusa” for instance, lacks a woman’s face with snakes on top. Instead, Smith has a body with snake like forms drowning the top portion of the torso. Medusa’s hair has engulfed her, and it is up to us to decide what that means.
Smith also has religious figures in his show like “Samson”, “Christ” and “Saint Sebastian”. All the figures are distinct, but the pieces work so well together and are similarly themed, who the Greeks worshipped and who the Abrahamic faiths cherish will seem one in the same. And perhaps that’s the point.
Small God’s and Heroes is showing at Lasell College’s Yamawaki Art & Cultural Center until February 24th, gallery hours 1-4, Monday- Thursday.