Dot Fisher-Smith and the Fountain of Youth

Perhaps during her world travels, activist and artist Dot Fisher-Smith found the Fountain of Youth. Energetic and effervescent, Fisher-Smith excitedly talks about her new gallery opening at the Inbound Wellness Yoga center in Ashland.

"I think a lot of people don't know that I'm an artist. I've done a lot of social activism and peace work and am crossing over to visual art forms," Fisher-Smith said. "I've done social art for a long time, and have also done visual art for some time. I haven't been so public with that.

"I've always wanted to be an artist, but I didn't know what it meant, only that it was different and that I didn't want to be like the grown-ups. I made a vow when I was young. I was an artist before I had a product, prior to becoming a peaceful, social activist in Vietnam," she said.

Fisher-Smith's art is highlighted by recycled materials. "I was ahead of my time. I've been frugal and have valued found objects long before I thought of and found the importance of conserving materials. In a world as corrupt and filled with cheap goods and products with so little care or concern for aesthetics, art is even more important. So is thinking of what's worth keeping, what's worth having. (The answer is) objects of beauty that reflect the beauty if the world and creation A lot of my art comes from the pressure created by using what I've got."

"I notice what inspires me is when I hear stories of change, things shifting and growth and potential in doing art," she said. "To see what shows up! Those surprises and spontaneity &

some things happen without me making them happen. The wonder of creation &

I see it everywhere."

Initially, Fisher-Smith sought to paint some canvas she had acquired, but realized that she was becoming more and more enamored with textures and natural forms of the canvas itself . "It took time, for the evolution of this work to include color. For many years it was all I could do to just put pen marks and Zen quotes upon the canvas; it seemed sacred to me."

In the spirit of Fisher-Smith's recycling penchant, she points out that the pastels she uses now used to be owned by her husband's grandfather in England.

Pausing to become lost in the shapes of the nature budding around her, Fisher-Smith's eyes cloud with wonderment for a moment, and a smile crawls up her face. Then she's back. From her artist statement, Fisher-Smith explains, "I call this intuitive 'research' in my art 'laboratory' the study of innerology &

the mysterious world of intriguing ambiguities. The innerscape of the earth, water and airy spaciousness emerge from the canvas."

Ever Zen, the Buddhist-inspired artist reflects on some of the whimsy behind her work. "Art is a mystery, too. Where it comes from, and where that creativity manifests, that's as great as the daffodil, or as the bee that stung me today."

Fisher-Smith credits a lot of her learning in the visual arts to her teacher, Ann O'Hanlon, who formerly taught at the University of California. "I learned to be free with my materials at that time. She was a great teacher; there were no judgments. She just taught us how to see."

Fisher-Smith and husband John had lived communally for a number of years. In 1977, the commune broke up and its members scattered. Ultimately, Fisher-Smith and John, an architect, found themselves in Ashland. Residing in the valley since 1981 has been a large source of inspiration for Fisher-Smith. "I felt so called here," said Fisher-Smith. "Ashland has been so welcoming that way, and the people have made me feel glad I'm here, which I am"&

166; there's a lot of permission to be one's self here."

Fisher-Smith was the artist of the month at the Rogue Art Center and also has been displayed at Southern Oregon University's Women's Resource Center.

But for Fisher-Smith, the influences of the region aren't limited to personality. "For 14 years I lived up off North Valley View," said Fisher-Smith. For those years, living off the land, looking down into the valley, I did a LOT of walking. I internalized the land; took it into me."

Looking at her art, she said: "I believe that there is a place for each one of these pieces.

"I trust that each one is calling for someone meant to have them, and I'd like to help make that happen, so price is negotiable," said Fisher-Smith, whose showing at Inward Bound came about from trading a piece for yoga lessons and massage. "I believe everything in life should be negotiable, except when it can't be."

To contact Fisher-Smith call Inward Bound at (541) 488-0108.

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