Artist Statement

For me, every sculpture I start is an experiment. I start with an idea.  Sometimes the idea is abstract as with Self Esteem and sometimes the idea is palpable as with Rat's Ass.

On beginning a piece, I never know how the finished piece will resemble my beginning vision.  There is the joy of discovery in watching the piece mutate as I work on it.  There is the suspense of wondering whether the piece will succeed or end up in the fireplace.

Soon after I start a piece, there is a mess.  Chips and sawdust cover the floor and an ugly, formless mass sits on the bench - accusingly.  It is only by faith and imagination that I can see a finished sculpture in the mess.  As I keep working on the piece, it takes on a life of its own.  It has a personality and feelings about how it wants to look (metaphorically speaking).  My job is to create lovely forms without killing that personality.  I caress the piece with eyes closed.  I walk around and around the piece at various distances in order to get to know it.  I spend more time trying to understand the piece than I do carving.  I agonize over each cut.

My sculptures may appear spontaneous, but I work hard to refine each surface and arrange the parts in an harmonious composition.  The challenge is to be artful while avoiding artifice -- to be serious without being solemn.  Above all, I hope to entertain.  If I can invoke a smile, or a tilted head, or even a scrunched-up face in the viewer, then I consider the sculpture a success
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Ripp Smith
Ripp Smith
Poking fun at a hostle world
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