Pottery by Richard Zane Smith

Wyandot Potter


Richard Zane Smith is a potter of Wyandot descent whose amazing works are constructed with tiny coils, following the model of the prehistoric corugated ware of the Southwest.  Mr. Smith's work has appeared in numerous books and publications and has been featured in exhitibts at the Philbrook Museum in Tulsa, Oklahoma; The American Craft Museum International Tour; and the San Diego Museum of Man.  The work is in the permenant collections of the American Craft Museum, the Philbrook and the Denver Art Museum.  The first piece he submitted to an exhibit won the Heard Museum's Annual American Art juried Competition coveted "Best of Pottery" award.

When looking for pottery, a collector will pass right by one of Richard Zane Smith's exquisite pieces, assuming it is a finely woven basket. A quick double take clarifies what appears to be a basket is actually pottery in a form unique to Smith's genius.

Smith was inspired by shards of corrugated ware hundreds of years old that were reminiscent of basketry. He is reawakening the pottery legacy of the Anasazi but adding contemporary color and design. He may be the first potter in hundreds of years to revive the use of tiny coils as a structural device.

From the American plains, Smith spent eight years with the Navajo, observing their profound sense of humility. Having absorbed this personal restraint along with his parents sincere spirituality, Smith avoids arrogance about his work, dedicating it all to God.

Exposure to the Southwest inspired Smith to glorify its regional forms rather than those of his own heritage. Besides classic Southwest shapes, Smith has developed his own, laying the tiny coils in undrilating forms. The result is highly unconventional contours. Smith's signature colors are muted pinks. blues, and purples. His designs. often swirling or on the diagonal. combined with natural slips enhanced with commercial stains result in comparisons to the illusionist Escher. Smith uses perspective.
color, and space to trick the eye into assuming three-dimensional space on a two-dimensional plane. creating a vistial treat few achieve.

A new inspiration is the shell, to Smith a significant symbol in the cosmic plan. He finds this container deeply moving and in line with his own attempts at beauty. He strives, not for a trite, imitative loveliness but for a deep. powerful. forceful majesty that comes ftom being surrounded by nature. In so doing. Richard Zane Smith creates structures of extreme allure deserving of a special reverence.


Richard Zane Smith
Wyandot Potter
Blue Rain Gallery