Visual Arts: Ceramics
Maggie Smith’s first experience with her future medium of choice was at an early age when, as an active tomboy, she dug out a vein of clay under the jungle gym at her playground. Born in 1950 in New Hampshire, as a child she also loved to draw, read and write.
When it came time for college, she couldn’t decide if she should major in literature or fine art, so she acquired a B.A. in Liberal Arts from the University of Delaware. Maggie first focused on drawing and painting as an undergraduate, and then rediscovered clay through functional pottery classes, leaping from fine art into craft. Her love for the medium took hold, and after receiving her B.A. she started a pottery cooperative in the early 1970s in Rochester, New York.
In graduate school she chose to pursue a degree in fine art because by that time she knew she wanted “to build things.” Her work at Indiana State University towards her M.F.A. allowed an evolution, once she had established her proficiency with the medium of clay, from craft back to fine art through ceramic sculpture.
Maggie’s first marriage was to her high school sweetheart at 19; but after graduate school she moved to Seattle in 1978 alone. She taught public school students as an artist-in-residence around the State, as well as adult artists’ workshops and mentoring programs. She had a studio in the old Polson building in Pioneer Square, where her own work was focused on abstract sculpture.
In 1986, around the time of her first public art projects, she married Victor Martino and moved to Bainbridge Island. She then moved her studio to Bainbridge in 1989, when she and Vic had a new energy efficient home, designed by Jim Cutler and resplendent with a composting toilet, built on Beck Road by Pleasant Beach Construction.
In recent years she has experimented with different materials, especially through working with architects and landscape architects on public art projects. Since 1983 she has created 20 public art commissions across the country, including the Salem Witch Trials Tercentenary Memorial in Massachusetts, completed in 1992, and the Oak Grove Freedman’s Cemetery Memorial in North Carolina, to be completed this year.
Her Bainbridge Island public art pieces are the Water Quilt ceramic tile mural at the Nakata Memorial Pool, and the Island to Island Bench Collaboration, a concrete bench with children’s tiles and bronze inlay located in the Grand Forest. With artist Buster Simpson, she produced the Winslow Gateway Project and Arts Master Plan for the Bainbridge Island 1% Public Art Program in 2003. Awards include the Boston Society of Architects Artist and Architect Collaboration Honor Award in 1993.
Maggie Smith has served her community as an artist, participating for several years as an advisor to the Bainbridge Island Public Art Program. While her main focus has been the realm of public art, Maggie’s résumé includes many gallery exhibitions, including several at Bainbridge Arts and Crafts.