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Local artist Stafford Smith exhibits new artwork at Studio 341

Trapped Between Memory and Desire is on display at Studio 341 and will be open on weekends.
Trapped Between Memory and Desire at Studio 341

Trapped Between Memory and Desire at Studio 341 /Matt Oberski

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Upon entering Studio 341, guests will find themselves surrounded by collages displaying surreal combinations of 20th-century portraiture, suburban architecture, and small, winged creatures. In his latest body of photographic work, titled Trapped Between Memory and Desire, local artist and Grand Valley State University professor Stafford Smith throws the faces of both family and strangers alike into these strange scenes to give them a new and mysterious narrative.

Smith began with examining old family photos, found images, portraits gathered from thrift stores, and in some cases, finding photographic slides thrown in the trash. As he put in his artist statement, “This was their day to be remembered the way they wanted to be seen and thought of. But now they are forgotten, leaving only these traces, these ghosts, these fossils in silver on paper.”

“There’s this human desire that we really want to be remembered, but then these end up in the junk shop because nobody cares. And then there’s this sad truth that one day, we will all be forgotten,” Smith said. Adding to this despairing condition, Smith explained, chuckling, that we also live in a constant state between past regrets and desires for “future regret,” which he attempts to illustrate in his images.

Smith’s process consisted of creating digital collages with photo editing software, and, utilizing DASS transparency film, transferring them onto a more fibrous watercolor paper.

“The way I do it, I leave a lot of room for flaws, which makes every print unique,” Smith said. “The one thing I don’t like about Inkjet prints is each print is exactly the same, and that wasn’t true in the darkroom.” These blemishes and “flaws” in the prints add an additional visual layer to each proposed narrative, giving the collages a more aged or even ethereal appearance.

While Trapped Between Memory and Desire isn’t officially an ArtPrize exhibition, Smith’s Gallery 341 will be open on weekends throughout its duration for visitors. Additionally, the gallery will be exhibiting a new body of work, this time from fellow GVSU professor and artist Brett Colley, beginning in October.

For more information on the gallery and open hours, please contact Stafford Smith at [email protected]

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