Perfect Spiderman by Charlie Smith, New Hampton School Visual Arts faculty, will be on display in the Galletly Gallery from November 8 – December 18. This solo show will feature new sculptural ceramic works made in a combination of hand-building and wheel-throwing techniques. The works examine a variety of themes through an autobiographical narrative that explores different periods of the artist’s life. Perfect Spiderman is about reflection, self-discovery, personal history, and the ways in which we deconstruct our past to better understand our present selves.
The exhibit borrows its title from a quote by Jean-Michel Basquiat. In reflecting on an art competition that he entered as a child, Basquiat explained his frustration at coming in second place to another boy who had “drawn a perfect Spiderman.” In time, Basquiat came to realize that, despite striving for perfection, his work did not need to be “perfect,” but more importantly needed to be true to himself. This revelation freed Basquiat to develop what would become his trademark style. Basquiat’s quote has always resonated with Smith in the development of his own aesthetic and techniques as a ceramicist, as well as in his growth as an artist and as a person: striving for honesty over perfection.
The image of Spiderman also serves as a metaphor for the outward projections we show to the world while hiding our real identities. This concept is again symbolized through the architectural forms in the show which represent the literal physical spaces that we inhabit and to which we are inextricably connected and the duality of our outward appearance versus the small windows that we allow people to see through to our true selves.
Exploring the shapes of memories
The works in Perfect Spiderman serve as vessels to interpret memories of the relationships, places, and events that have shaped the artist’s life. The show explores the challenges of friendship, the struggles to maintain connections in a vast world, the influences that impact and shift our course, and the profound revelations lying in wait within the pleasant simplicities of life, like building a treehouse, hiking a mountain, or listening to a record.
About the artist
Smith studied Ceramics at Skidmore College and The Glasgow School of Art and has shown his ceramic and mixed media work at galleries in New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Glasgow. He has taught art at summer programs at Hotchkiss School, Deerfield Academy, and Cardigan Mountain School and is in his sixth year teaching at New Hampton School.
The exhibit is free and open to the public. The Galletly Gallery is located on the second floor of New Hampton School’s Moore Center. The gallery is open Monday through Friday from 8 am to 4 pm and on Saturdays from 9 am to noon. The gallery will close during school break from November 23-30.