Inspired by: Amy Smith

In this second of my “Inpsired by:” series, I’m again sticking close to my university roots. The bowl at left by Amy Smith is titled “10 Shallow Bowl” (2006) and is for sale at Anderson O’Brien Fine Art in Omaha.

While I worked on my undergrad at the University of Nebraska, Smith was finishing up her MFA, studying ceramics. I don’t remember exactly how I came to know of her, but the first I remember was a performance she gave in the Nebraska student union Rotunda Gallery, baking with a Fisher Price oven. This image does seem somewhat fitting for her. She never had the pretentious air about her so often associated with the arts, and, perhaps in particular, art students.

However, baking in little ovens with light bulbs is not how I know her.

I suppose the best way to describe Smith’s work, from my point of view, is as an organic minimalism. Her thesis show was awesome – truly awe-inspiring, as I recall. I was attracted to her work, to her bowls in particular, in the way they mysteriously conveyed a certain complexity yet were so wonderfully simple in form and decoration. Her use of porcelain befits her forms and aesthetic. The glazes she develops and uses are captivating but never really bold. Many of them have actual depth and allow the viewer to see through them to the white clay beneath.

It must also be added that her work, particularly that which employs her blue and green glazes, causes me to think of thunderstorms. If you’ve read much of this journal at all, you know what affinity I have for storms. Smith’s colors, texture and use of porcelain quite possibly — even if subconsciously — emulate the grace and glory of a storm.

Her bowls caused me, perhaps more than any other artwork I can recall, to sincerely ponder the concept of original beauty — that is, Beauty which is God-ordained and unspoiled by the Fall. And in fact, I may go so far as to say some of her pieces are the most beautiful artwork I’ve personally laid eyes on.

The undulating vase pictured at left is also by Smith, one that I happen to own and sits on our piano in the living room — stalk of very slow-growing bamboo not included.



About pcNielsen
Paul Nielsen founded The Aesthetic Elevator late in 2005. He owns a piece of paper, located somewhere in his house (not on the wall), stating that he earned a B.F.A. from the University of Nebraska around about 2001. While there, he studied studied architecture, graphic design and ceramics, graduating with a degree in studio art. Paul presently serves as communications manager for a small non-profit doing their print design and marketing. He spends as much time sculpting in his studio as possible — which is not nearly enough. Visit his website at

4 Responses to Inspired by: Amy Smith

  1. Pingback: Amy Smith platter « The Aesthetic Elevator

    • amy says:

      Thank you for your complimentary and descriptive writing. The man who is working on my website found this link and directed it to my attention. I am thinking about asking you to write my next review.

      As a person who naturally remembers faces, names elude me, I apologize.

      FYI: Passion’s daughter III sold last month.

      How’s KS?

      • pcNielsen says:

        Glad you like it! We were living in Arkansas until 3 months ago. Back in Nebraska now (Grand Island) for a while while we try and figure out what’s next in life.

        This post used to have images as you can tell by the text. They probably got lost when I changed blogging platforms.

        My name and bio here:

  2. Hello! I could have sworn I’ve been to this blog before but after
    reading through some of the post I realized it’s new to me.

    Anyways, I’m definitely happy I found it and I’ll be bookmarking and checking back often!

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