The process of mixed media has given me a way of bringing out ideas through informational layers, allowing me to visually explore life. I create in order to understand my life as I live it. The canvas is a place to transform, pay tribute, and validate the things that make up my life: photos, scraps of paper, collectibles, treasures, sorrow, epiphanies, concerns, questions, and my truth. This has always allowed me a way to investigate, learn, and explore. I strive to create pieces that are truthful, playful, and often a serious narration of life. I get lost in the realm of creating, always attempting to make sense of my deepest concerns.
This is the last piece I did for the series, “Play Along”. It was December and the Sandy Hook school shooting had just happened.
Working in the public school system, Smith began thinking about her own standards of safety at the high school when Bozeman High, along with many nationwide, reacted to the Connecticut shooting with its own lockdown. Hence the title of piece, “Lockdown”.
On the Friday after Sandy Hook incident, the principal came on over the intercom and told us this was a lockdown, and I could tell from the tone in his voice that it wasn’t a practice drill. None of us knew what was going on. There were so many glitches, and it really instilled fear in all of us.
The art piece looks at the history of school shootings. On the upper right corner is a library due card stamped with the dates of domestic school shootings; it begins with April 20, 1999, the date of the Columbine High School tragedy, and lists eighteen events ending with Sandy Hook Elementary.
I started doing the research and was shocked at the number of shootings in this country.
There is also a library book cardholder containing the lockdown procedures for the high school and the class photos of the six students that were in the lockdown with Smith. But the most powerful image is the main one, a 1963 archival photograph of a little girl smiling, holding a flag in one hand and a handgun in the other. Around her head is the Betsy Ross circle of “stars” made with sequins. Smith uses pastel colors, which brings a sad naiveté to the overall piece. Layered underneath are former student’s sketchbook pages, overlaid with handgun transfer images and a columbine flower.