Jeff Smith

About the Artist and his work

Jeff was born and raised in New Jersey. He traveled and lived abroad as a young man, and has lived in Santa Fe since 1979. He has worked as a woodworker for the past thirty years.

In 1995, Jeff took an art welding class at Ghost Ranch, an arts and education center in northern New Mexico. The experience opened a new world of creativity and freedom of expression, and he discovered that he could turn pieces of scrap metal into unique works of art.

Jeff combs scrap yards and other sites for abandoned metal, and the metal that he finds suggests the eventual sculpture. Unlike other art forms, he is limited to the material in front of him. He does not use new material, nor does he shape or change the pieces he uses, and this is the challenge of creating the art that he does.

The next step involves finding an aesthetic relationship among different pieces so that the final product will have integrity, interest and balance. Each piece of scrap has a relationship to the other pieces, and each contributes to the whole. He strives to find ways of arranging the pieces so that a theme emerges and the work has a unity.

The final step in the process is welding the parts together. This can be difficult and unpredictable. The heat of welding can change the color of a piece of metal, or a small shift in the positioning of two pieces can make the difference between a piece that works or one that does not.

Jeff enjoys bonding pieces of scrap that might come from different sources, and it satisfies him to give new life to what otherwise would sit in a scrap yard. In the end, each sculpture is a permanent, solid piece that reminds us of the potential for beauty in the most ordinary objects.

His work is currently being shown at Vivo Contemporary, a gallery on Canyon Road in Santa Fe, New Mexico.