It does not take long for someone to discover the hidden jewels of The Ozarks. I’m talking about the talented individuals that call these hills their home. Down a winding road in the middle of the national forest lives a potter and his family. Jamie Zane Smith, a tribal member of the Wyandot Nation of Kansas, looks to his Native American roots for artistic inspiration. I had the chance to spend some time with Jamie and interview him in his home studio earlier this month.
After receiving a Bachelors of Fine Arts from Western New Mexico University in 2008, He moved his family to Wyandotte, Oklahoma to apprentice with his Uncle, who has always been Jamie’s childhood hero. Within a year Jamie was creating ceramic vessel forms utilizing hand building techniques passed down for generations in ancient times. Also passed down was knowledge about harvesting local clay and paint. These indigenous methods are unique and demanding. Jamie enjoys the process and feels connected to the land from which he harvests and wishes that his art can speak for the land and traditions. In Jamie’s own words:
“Family traditions are crucial and tie us to an indigenous past that may seem small but is so important. The small streams are just as essential as the largest river. The smallest branches on a tree still serve the tree and they are one”
Jamie moved to The Ozarks in 2009. His wife has roots here and they both feel a connection to the land. Raising their three daughters at the head waters of The Courtois Creek seems to be a calling they take seriously.
Jamie uses wooden hand carved stamps impressed in the clay creating patterns that catch the eye. Some of the fine art creates an optical illusion for the viewer. Jamie talks about his technique:
“stamps are a vehicle used on the surface of the ceramic vessel and repeat on the piece throughout and symbolize a cosmological interpretation of a view of reality and how we perceive the world around us.”
He spends many hours on each stamp. Each stamp represents a pattern in nature or an idea. He has a connection with the many hard wood stamps and usually doesn’t sell them. One stamp could be used on a whole series of work and then never used again!
Jamie has also been experimenting with a stoneware series. Most of these pieces are functional forms with stamp design. Some of the bowls have local bark impressions on the surface and were made with a nonelectric treadle wheel. These pots will be fired in a high fire wood kiln made by potter and friend Rob Bowness. Jamie says,
“Using stoneware is allowing me to engage with more local potters. Working with a group of artist gives me energy and inspiration”
Jamie is an active member of the Steelville Arts Counsel (or STARCO). He has helped to found STARCO’s artist and residence program that is on it’s third year. STARCO’s resident program has provided artists a living space for up to one month and an opportunity to display work and demo for the community. STARCO has been hosting musicians, painters, poets and visual artist. Jamie is working with other volunteers towards creating future community events such as workshops, wood fired kilns, lecture series, and juried art shows. Jamie thinks STARCO is an asset to the community and local artists. He will be showing his work at Gallery Zeke, STARCO’s fine art gallery on Main Street thru the month of November and the first two weeks of December. He will also be participating in the 2015 Steelville Clay Festival. There will be live demos, music, and art shows thru the month of July. For more information visit steelvilleartscouncil.org/
Jamie’s work can also be found at King Galleries of Scottsdale, Arizona Native American Collections of Denver, Colorado, and Lovett’s Gallery of Tulsa, Oklahoma. For up coming shows and Jamie’s online portfolio, go to Jamiezanesmith.com or visit Jamie Zane Smith’s Pottery’s Facebook page. Also, check out photos and articles of Jamie’s cord-wood studio going up at Wildstead.com.
By Colleen Smith
Below is a link to an article written by a friend at La Vista farm: Dannette Watt, with photos by Kathie Bassett. It chronicles my artist residency at La Vista