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Mossy Tree

Color woodcut on paper
Support size: 11 7/8 x 7 inches; Image size: 11 x 6 inches
Circa 1919
Now on view: TJC Gallery, Spartanburg, South Carolina

As published in: The Charleston Renaissance

As exhibited in: When East Meets West: Three Centuries of Artistic Discourse, 2018, Oglethorpe University Museum of Art, Brookhaven, Georgia

Essentially self-taught, Smith studied a collection of Japanese woodblock prints from the Ukiyo-e School owned by her beloved cousin and scientist Motte Alston Read. She experimented with the medium and created six images after her own designs. Her investigations and enthusiasm served as a catalyst for the formation of the Charleston Etching Club, and she was a founding member of the Southern States Art League. Eventually, she abandoned printmaking in favor of watercolors.

Nevertheless, Japanese design and sensibility pervade many of her paintings as well. In Mossy Tree, the verticality, subdued tones, and sensitivity to nature are hallmarks of her Japonisme.