360 Xochi Quetzal

Merridee Joan Smith

I love fiber arts – the history, beauty, tactile quality and variety – the common thread that links my hands to those of so many in the past. I am again focusing on silk painting and felt making,
though I also enjoy botanical printing and natural dyeing. Botanical printing allows me to walk outside to collect leaves, bark, roots, and flowers, process them on my silk and wool and obtain lovely prints. I literally bring the outdoors inside.

Silk painting is an excellent medium for capturing the colors, patterns and iridescence of flowers. The joy and challenge is to use the dyes and silk to interpret the subject’s complexity and beauty. I apply colors using liquid dyes that flow across the silk. Brilliant colors move and blend in ways that can be unexpected and beautiful. It feels as though the dyes, silk and I are collaborating on the final painting. The process, which requires relinquishing some control and allowing the unexpected, can be an exhilarating experience.

Merridee and her husband, Keith, a batik artist, were originally educated as chemists, and for many years viewed and experienced the world as scientists. Science and art require similar attributes in their view: an appreciation for the wonder of the world, creativity, serious study, and the ability to observe closely. In addition, art requires a passion to take what one experiences and render it in some personal form. These concepts inspire their individual and collaborative works. After a career as a forensic scientist, Merridee studied silk painting, rozome, batik, botanical printing and felt making from artists in diverse countries such as Japan, Indonesia, Israel, England, Ireland and Germany. She is delighted to be able to participate in artist residencies sponsored by 360 Xochi Quetzl by the inspirational Lake Chapala in Mexico. Her work has been shown in galleries in Northern California and Kauai, and is in collections on the West and East coasts as well as in Hawaii and Mexico. She was thrilled to have had her silk paintings displayed twice in shows sponsored by the Smithsonian Institution. Examples of her work can be seen in Susan Louise Moyer’s book, Silk Painting for Fine Art and Fashion. She is honored to to have been designated a Master Silk Painter by her peers in Silk Painters International.

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