Laura Zelda Smith--an incredibly common name with the secret zest of Zelda folded into the middle. The Laura was taken from my mom’s younger sister, who drowned in the pool at two-years-old. The Zelda from my great grandmother, on my mother’s side— Zelda Naomi Wooster. In a way, my name nods to an untimely death, at the same time as acknowledges a full life: the wet delicate hands of a child pull at one side of it, and the frail grip of an elderly lady, trapped in a wheelchair, clings to the other. Normally, I forget my name’s origins, I can’t be romantic enough to claim to live for them, but maybe in spite of them, or in addition to them.
I come from long sweeping stretches of rich black farmland and bare uncovered earth. Each September, I would drive through roads littered with the light husks of onions. In August the rank stench of the rotting un-harvest would lay laconically on the air, along with the notion of turnover: planting, growing, dying over and over again—a cycle of resilience stemming from and yielding back into the soil.
Often the subject of my exploration is enigmatic like the blue lines on looseleaf paper, the marks fingers make across a keyboard or unattended luggage in public transportation hubs. I give voice and vulnerable humor to things not particularly conspicuous for their volubleness. I am interested in using ephemeral materials to create performative sculpture and an engineered, but genuine, dialog of materiality. My process highlights material breakdown, like that of clay dissolving in water, or ice melting and carving small irregularities into a surface, or butter soaking into bread.
I graduated from Alfred University in 2012 with a BFA, as well as a minor in English literature and dance. I received my MFA in 2018 from the University of Colorado Boulder where I focused on creating temporal sculpture. In the in-between, I helped organize a collaborative performance touring company. I also spent a period of time at the Cal-Earth Institute of art and architecture where I learned about sustainable housing and earth architecture. From 2014-2015, I co-constructed a living-structure on a Canadian couples’ burgeoning nature retreat with a colleague, Opif, and co-created two children's play-space with another colleague, Caitlin Deane.