Welcoming Good Fortune 2012 graphite 24.8 x 28.6 x 0.8 in. Antique frame hand finished by artist
Frances Smokowski’s intricate drawings are currently receiving their NY debut at Cavin-Morris Gallery. EDGEWALKERS: Sacred and Profane presents a dynamic array of contemporary works. Randall Morris and Shari Cavin have gathered a diverse, international group of artists for this rather groundbreaking exhibition. Randall notes the select do not respond in any intentional way to mainstream movements or trends but for sidestepping, ignoring or living in honest unawareness of them. “These artists are not Outsiders,” he explains. “They are vitally connected to this world, whether spiritually, socially, or politically. We look for the place where labels become irrelevant and the work remains urgent, immediate and singular.”
Smokowski, like quite a few of the others, tends towards visionary content. Hers are enlivening, phenomenological proliferations that offer more and more for consideration the longer you look. Though biological imagery abounds, the work is neither literal reference nor comment on Scientific theories, data or outcomes.
Smokowski biomorphic works installed in EDGEWALKERS: Sacred and Profane — Cavin-Morris Gallery, NYC on view through May 27, 2023.
Please elaborate on how your work can be understood as sidestepping or ignoring the mainstream Art World?
I cannot be considered an “outsider” given my extensive work history inside the fields of mental health, special education and art education. Yet, various sensitivities have not allowed me to rest comfortably within a dominant culture where discrimination and other ills abound. Art Therapy allowed me to explore what art can mean inside the exquisite particularity of individual lives, as a catalyst for personal growth and as a tool for psychological and social healing. It was at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago as an AT student that I learned about “Spontaneous Painting” as an intuitive process where judgment is suspended so subconscious expression can unfold.
After two decades in the field I had questions about what I experienced in institutional settings, and in my own spontaneous painting experiments. The questions had to do with where inspiration or the will to heal comes from. Exploring Spirituality in a broad sense, and indigenous healing traditions, in specific, followed. Via Yoga and Reiki, QiGong and Shamanism I learned ways to access energy, insight and transcendent states which augmented my studio practice in surprising ways. Approaching the creative process without preconceptions and allowing forms to develop automatically, biomorphic images emerged again and again. What I found through meditation, and self-imposed limits on interface with mass culture, was access to a multi-dimensional Art World within.
Vibrational Realignment & Alchemical Reverberations 2020 13.4 x 11.9 x 1 in. Carbon transfer on rag paper, with ink and acrylic paints, as seen in Edgewalkers
Can you tell us more about your process and why it is your images are primarily biomorphic?
My biomorphic work is inner vision. Abstraction affords me freedom from narrative and conditioning. Abstraction also provides a level of privacy, relief from preferences and opinions (internal and external). It is a kind of ontological code for expanded states of Being.
I’m drawing, or painting, in deep meditative states initiated by prayer or other types of sound. What’s always worked best for me is solitude. In my NY chapter I redefined both Solitude and Studio time. There I drew multiple times a day on public transit rides. Finding a portable and reliable sanctuary state was imperative, especially in the chaos of Manhattan rush hours. Hyper-focus, oneness with the jostle and strong waves of inspired energy lead more and more to images I never could have consciously imagined; images that took weeks of diligent reconnection to accrue.
From Shamans and Psychic Healers I learned that energies and information coming through intuitive channels must work within the knowledge and skill set of the individual who opens to receive and convey. My Mother is a deeply religious person of unshakable Faith in a Divine Creator, Saints and Angelic forces. She has always worked everyday miracles. My father was a Chemist who advanced into Health Physics. Through his high powered microscope he showed me the presence and power of unseen forces on another level. When the layers of my personality relax in meditation, what is there, awaiting activation, is my primal awareness of Life’s mysteries and miracles; the X and Y of my visionary inheritance. Glimpses of the invisible, micro and macro, physical and Spiritual became profoundly formative, and continue to be infinitely compelling.
For further information about the EDGEWALKERS exhibition please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Spectral Communicoda 2022, WIP Acrylic over carbon pigment on rag paper
About the Artist: Frances Smokowski was born and raised in Western, NY. She earned a Masters Degree in Art Therapy from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and an MFA from the NY Academy of Art in New York City. Frances has been actively exhibiting and curating since the mid 1980’s. Her artwork earned features in 6 states and in our Nation’s Capital before arriving in New York. Smokowski biomorphic works are placed in notable permanent collections abroad; at the College of Psychic Studies in London, England and the Collection of Mediumistic Art in Munich, Germany. Frances lives and works in the Hudson Valley.