artist spotlight Cheryl Wilson Smith

share your creative practice:
in conversation with Cheryl Wilson Smith

What influences translate into your art practice?



I am heavily influenced by the time I spend  in natural surroundings.  The Boreal Forest, abundance of lakes and wildlife in a setting devoid of big city life all infuse my creativity. The passage of time, both geologically and genetically influence my thoughts and lead to be expressed through my work. Genetic memory and the role that  it may play in our lives, is  currently occupying me and leading to excitement toward future exploration in my work.


Has this changed the way you approach your work?

Not really. This process I use in my work is constantly being refined and adapted to build new work, but the repetitive meditative layering is a constant. The current situation with the pandemic has forced me to slow down, which I think I really needed reminding of. I am considering my work more and enjoying the process.


What initially captured your imagination about glass?


Initially I was drawn to the depth and translucency of glass, which seems humorous now when you look at my work.  The ability to build 3 dimensionally was irresistible to me even though I had to sacrifice the translucency for now.   The technical aspect of glass keeps me engaged and challenged.


What’s the significance of the handmade to you?


Handmade is at the pinnacle of importance. I have given of my time, energy, and thought to create this piece of work.   When someone views it we are forming a bond of sort. One that, though not always physical, is a connection between spirits.


What was your route to becoming an artist?


A very round about one, I went to university for Kinesiology, but was never satisfied, throughout my schooling I continued painting and drawing and craft was always a big part of my life. Eventually the need to create became undeniable, and my painting led to ceramics, which led to glass.


What is your chosen medium and what are your techniques?


I work with crushed  glass, commonly referred to as frit.  I most often pass this glass through screens and build an object layer upon layer, much like a manual 3d printing process. I fire the sculpture as a whole in my kiln


How would you describe your work and where do you think it fits within the sphere of contemporary glass?


I use my work to express my connection to the landscape.  Glass happens to be the medium which currently expresses this in an abstract design and sculptural in form .


Tell us a bit about your process and what environment you like to work in?


 I treat my day like a job.. I try and get to my studio early and I love my space and although I have  a 3000 square foot studio  to myself it feels warm  and alive. I love  to listen to music, podcasts,  and stories that engage me and draw me in while I am working.  My studio is constant visual chaos, but I like to be able to look around and see what I have or what I may need next.  The older projects are good reminders of mistakes and possibilities. I am definitely visual and being surrounded by “ stuff” is necessary for me to feel comfortable.


Who do you look up to when it comes to aesthetics?


Anslem Kiefer, Daniel Ashram , Lucien Freud, Tara Donavan , Terisita Fernandez, Katherine Gray, Silvia Levenson, Joseph Cavaleiri ….. there are many more , and this list could go on for ever


What currently inspires you and which other artists do you admire and why?


Currently the thought of genetic memory is pushing my work… the thought that the art  comes from somewhere inside me and from outside of me , from a distant past , that those who have lived before me are contributing to this moment and sharing that connection with others.  

Almost everyone I see is an inspiration but the my main encouragement  comes from my mentor Koen Vanderstukken,  and Canadian glass artists Ione Thorkelsson, Jamie Gray, Susan Edgerly, Irene Frolic,  Julia Reimer, George Whitney and Jerre Davidson  to name just a few. Each of these artist have offered help and inspire me in their character and the work they do. There are many artist all over the world that offer this kind of inspiration but in particular these Canadian artist  are remarkable humans.

Cheryl Wilson Smith

Cheryl Wilson Smith is a Sculptural Glass Artist living and working in the Canadian far north, on the granite and gold of the Canadian Shield and surrounded by Boreal  Forest.

In her work Smith strives to capture the emotion of the natural world that surrounds her. By manipulating the physical characteristics of powdered glass, she is able to achieve forms that resemble familiar land formations.