Interview – Montgomery Perry Smith

Last week I visited the studio of Chicago artist Montgomery Perry Smith, who’s captain-of-industry name gives good cover for a delicate and softly disturbing fiber-heavy sculpture practice. I’d first run into his work at a show at the (now closed) Humboldt Park apartment gallery¬†MVSEVM, where his interactive papasan-and-felt sculpture Soul Searching was a complete creepy success, and after spotting his name on the fall season’s opening weekend roster with a solo show at Johalla Projects, asked to come by for some photos and a short interview. Enjoy.

Montgommery Perry Smith

Montgomery Perry Smith

Could you tell me about yourself and your history in Chicago?

I came to Chicago from Dallas, TX in 2004 to get my BFA at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.  I originally planned on studying drawing and painting, but quickly moved to the Fiber and Material Studies department. When I graduated in 2008, I started to get involved with the Harold Arts Residency and have worked closely with them since.

Montgomery Perry Smith

Montgomery Perry Smith

You use a lot of found materials in your work – decorative flowers, glass domes, furniture parts, etc. Where do you hunt for these, and what attracts you to certain items? Do you generally set off knowing what you’re looking for, or do the pieces follow the objects you find?

I find most of my materials at thrift and craft stores. Sometimes I’ll have a specific object to find when I’m making a piece, but a couple pieces have been inspired by the random items I come across. These objects tend to be strange yet familiar, and carry their own loaded history.

Montgomery Perry Smith

Montgomery Perry Smith

Your pieces can be really confrontational, and some (like Soul Searcher or Bottom Feeder) sort of loom in space in a freaky way, but the materials you use and the internal parts also invite up-close interaction. How do you want viewers to engage with your work?

I want viewers to get up close and explore my pieces. Many of them have hidden pockets and crevices that require further inspection.  I like these different layers of exploring; there will always be the photographed image of the piece, but the viewer needs to have their face up in it to fully engage it.

Montgommery Perry Smith, oh honey baby (detail)

Montgomery Perry Smith, oh honey baby (detail)

Could you describe a piece you’re working on now?

I’m finishing up a piece for the “pit worship” show right now. It has a baby blue pallet and a lot of lace and daisies. It’s very celebratory but sickening at the same time.

Montgomery Perry Smith

Montgomery Perry Smith

If you’d like to see more of Montgomery Perry Smith, check out his new show Pit Worship opening this Saturday, September 11th from 7-11 PM @ Johalla Projects, 1561 N Milwaukee Ave.

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  1. From Chicago Art Review on 09 Sep 2010 at 4:20 PM

    […] to check out Montgomery Perry Smith‘s studio a little while ago (which you can read about here), and I really liked what I saw. All that new work will be up in his solo show titled Pit Worship, […]

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