Peace of War: Intertwined Through Art

Peace of War: Intertwined Through Art

M.F.A. student Michelle Smith's "Protective Nature" sculpture will be part of an exhibition in Honfleur Gallery in Washington, D.C.

School of Art Design and Art History

"Protective Nature" by Michelle Smith: Steel, magic papier mâché, plaster, motion activated led lights and grief journal entries 60” x 60” x 45” ; photo credit: Steven Luu.

Michelle Smith, an M.F.A. student in JMU's School of Art, Design and Art History, will have a large sculpture in "Peace of War: Intertwined Through Art," an exhibition opening tomorrow at Honfleur Gallery in Washington, D.C.

The sculpture, "Protective Nature," is a larger-than-life example of how she investigates the simple, unassuming form of a seed and its many layers of meaning. In this work, Michelle explores how seeds not only have natural, built-in mechanisms to rigorously protect the successful legacy of their species but how they are also filled with a tremendous potential to both replenish and destroy. Here, she emphasizes, analyzes, and compares these important aspects of seeds to human beings by replacing the seed with a human form.

"Just as the shell protects the seed within, so do we as humans strive to protect our precious souls."

As the viewer approaches the sculpture, the seed slowly starts to glow from within the cracked opening, beckoning the viewer to take a closer look. Curled inside this sculpture’s outer armor is a human figure cast directly from the artist’s daughter and covered with her personal journal entries that were made in the months following her husband's death. These pages are torn, stained, and overlapping, making them hard to read or understand.

The artist believes that sometimes the use of words alone is simply not enough to process or convey complicated emotions and situations. The act of creating art then becomes the best vehicle to express the feelings that swirl deep inside after such a great personal loss.

Michelle sees a tremendous need in society to help people process internal and external struggles, both known and unknown. She hopes to make an invaluable connection through her sculptures by reaching this unexpressed and intangible side of her viewing audience.

Smith is currently in the Master of Fine Arts graduate program at James Madison University where she hopes to completely immerse herself into the process of creating while building her art practice. After earning her Master’s Degree, Michelle wishes to teach, thus, bringing her love of art to the wider community and perhaps offering some degree of the same type of therapeutic benefits that she believes art holds for everyone.

Michelle A. Smith was born and raised in Northern Virginia just outside of Washington, DC. She earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts: Sculpture degree from George Mason University in 2021. 

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Published: Wednesday, November 2, 2022

Last Updated: Thursday, November 2, 2023

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