N Magazine cover story,
Old jewelry boxes, tennis shoes, milk cartons, soda cans — you name it, and it’s Doug Smith’s sculpture. Smith says he’s “turning a sow’s ear into a silk purse” with art made from things we throw away. Smith, a retired art director for regional and national business and entertainment publications, started with a practical premise; he wanted sculpture he could move around the yard of his Garden Highway home. Making pulp of everything from old tax returns to paper bags, he creates a paper mache to apply to his found objects. “things take shape. A face will appear,” he says of the process. He has produced more than 150 pieces so far, ranging in size from eight inches to 8 feet. “It became an obsession,” he admits.
“i’ve become very respectful of the idea of recycling. Neighbors bring me things now,” Smith says. He considers Cube Lady, featured on our cover, his masterpiece. “It started as a box that kittens came in,” he says, “and I’ve lost track of the debris that went in there.”
Smith has experimented over the years with techniques to make his pieces weatherproof.
He’s developed a compound that produces a matte finish and is durable enough to withstand anything the outdoors can dish out.
Growing concern about the environment is generating interest in Smith’s work. He has had a show in Rocklin and is working on a spring show in Loomis. “At first this was for my own pleasure, but it has evolved into a discussion about what these objects mean. My offering is a small gesture within a bigger picture. It’s about using our resources wisely. I’ve read that the soft drink cans we recycle in the U.S. in one day would cover Manhattan. On many levels, what we throw away is our future,”Smith says.
Selected examples of sculptures from private collections and selected exhibits using recycled materials.