Richard J. Smith explores unexpected interrelationships between everyday images through surrealist photomontage. Working with elements from nature, pedestrian objects, specially-commissioned photos, and scenes from his travels and neighborhood, he fuses these components into ethereal yet cohesive views that transcend their origins. A self-taught graphic artist with 20+ years of professional experience, Smith incorporates assimilated photographic techniques and modern photomanipulation approaches into his handcrafted compositions. He calls his work “Handcrafted Surrealism” because all photography and editing are done via smartphone.
What appeals to me most about surrealism is a sense of connection and transcendence – or even just the possibilities of their taking place. I think we’re all looking to transcend in some way; to explore or become part of something outside ourselves. And yet mostly we go about our routines amid similar scenery so much that our days can seem to blur into one another. I like to think of my art as an expansion or slowing down of time, taking a focused approach to those moments where ordinary elements from our regular experience become magnified and juxtaposed in ways that achieve transcendence on multiple levels – from the first sighting (“oh, hey, that’s cool”) to a deeper study (“woah… what is that???”) – so that my compositions not only bring dissociative elements together, but also offer deeper appreciation of elementary surroundings. And then all this coalesces in viewers’ minds in fashions unique to individual experience and interpretation. I’ve actually seen it take place in real time when I’ve shown my work, and it’s a great thrill to get completely unique reactions from others looking at my art, something I’ve put together on with my own hands, using pieces of my own ordinary scenery, magnified and blended with any number of disparate elements from all over the country. To me, that’s the ultimate and most rewarding transcendence, maybe even happening right now.
– Richard Smith