An Oklahoma native, Diana J. Smith received a BFA in painting from the University of Oklahoma. Her intense interest in masks led her into additional studies in anthropology.
Diana has exhibited in numerous juried, group, and solo shows and has won awards for her paintings, ceramics and masks. While Diana also enjoys pure abstraction, she is best known for her acrylic paintings of canines, enlivening her subjects with qualities of loyalty, humor, inquisitiveness, mystery and patience.
Diana created masks of leather during the 1980’s which are in private collections all over the country.
Diana began working in ceramics in 2014 as a break from painting, after her solo show in the Governor’s Gallery at the Oklahoma State Capital. Once she discovered Raku firing, she knew she must make masks again utilizing ceramic Raku fired faces.
Her first ceramic solo show was:
– created to engage curious thought –
What are they? Wizards of course.
Each one the creation of a new species clothed in Celtic robes and topped with a proper wizarding hat. Some have companions, some are solitary. Their smug, playful grins assure you they have a secret you must seek. Curious, wise and possessing magical powers, these wizards exude a contagious sense of spirit that will be recognizable to any who have sought wisdom, have come to the aid of another or found themselves skeptical of an unknown. They personify us all.
The wizards are formed by hand. As I sculpt, each individual character develops. I fire on decals of my own design, paint fabric-like patterns with under-glazes, and apply multiple stains to achieve their antique appearance. Some call for additional elements — wire, leather, fur, gemstones, beads and charms — to complete their persona. Creating them is illustrating a fairy tale in my imagination.
Then, a surprise to me, they each seemed to need their story told. So I began The Wizards’ Journal – The Exalted Tome of Quests. I have no idea how long this will last…as long as these extraordinary beings choose to share their quests with me, I shall keep recording their words herein…..
The second series….Jacks. Small jack rabbits with exaggerated limbs in unexpected human-like positions. They are mounted to a slate base and have curious names like Jack Daniels, Jackson Pollack, Get Back Jack.
The masks. Raku fired faces, beads, feathers, shells and other natural materials are combined to convey the mysterious spirit of each mask with fantastic colors, shapes, and textures.