Rhonda Smith


Sometime in my childhood I was told to stop eating snow; fallout from nuclear testing had contaminated it, the purported fault of Iron Curtain countries. Children’s thinking is pretty clear if not fully expressible. Didn’t those nuclear tests happen in the west of the US? I had seen the photos. Why could I breathe the air but not eat snow? What was the iron curtain made of really and why was it so depressing? So this picture of adults, unable to get along and inventing destructive things that couldn’t be undone, on top of making up reality, was a major adjustment to my viewpoint. I am by nature an optimist but have lived with an undercurrent of the dystopian at best, apocalyptic at worst.

And now, in addition to humans mutual disregard for one another, we have the ineffable sadness of near irreversible destruction of the place where we live. We can hear earth saying early on to its humans, “Here you are, plenty of breathable air and potable water. Just take care of me.” There was no other ask, no other payment due. The other planets, too hot, too cold or not having the right mixture of elements, once looked upon us with longing and wonder, ”Oh, that beautiful planet! We are so far away from having all that.” Now they sing a lament. Nature, adaptive, reactive, and intelligent, cannot retain its former composition.

Taking this all into account, I have made pieces that are homage to the beauty and intricacies of natural phenomenon and, in an installation, created a battle sight that visualizes my distraught view of man versus nature. Buildings, constructed of clay, wire and found materials, represent humankind. They are under assault. The nature component in this installation is intent on being yet also besieged.