The Carrollwood Cultural Center and the Life Enrichment Center showcase the work of Tampa Bay's most promising and talented artists.
We talked to one named Monica Smiley recently about her work and how she got her start.
Patch: How did you get started as an artist?
Smiley: While visiting North Carolina, I enrolled in a summer session at Appalachian State University in Boone, N.C. at the suggestion of a friend. The course consisted of using nature to create and decorate clay. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed getting my hands into the clay and wanted to learn more on the concepts of handbuilding.
Upon my return, I discovered The Mudslingers, a pottery center right in my backyard at the Carrollwood Cultural Center. It has been here that I have been learning the basics and beyond of handbuilding and wheel throwing under the guidance and expertise of Gilda Butler.
Patch: Who or what influences you?
Smiley: Free forming. I don’t necessarily have an idea in mind of how I want a piece to look. I like getting my hands in the clay and let creativity work. This works for both handbuilding and wheel throwing. At the end, I marvel at what I have created.
Patch: What are some misconceptions people have about artists?
Smiley: I was surprised when I was asked to do this interview as I didn’t consider myself an artist. I perceive myself as someone who has discovered a great hobby which I really enjoy. I do have passion about the pieces that I make. Therefore, I am a hobbyist artist. I do this for fun.
Patch: What do you think your artwork says about you?
Smiley: It tells others that I like to create, not destroy. When you look at a piece that someone has created, you can tell a lot about that person. You can see what inspires them, how were they feeling at the time, whether the person is a detailed one or not.
Even the selection of colors can tell you a lot about that person. I normally like earth tones with a splash of bright color.
Patch: How can people view your work?
Smiley: Some of my pieces are on display at The Carrollwood Cultural Center.