Have you ever wondered what becomes of a kid who receives both the art and science award in junior high school? Meet Andrew James Smith of Watsonville, California. In high school he was photographer for the school paper and year book; winner of speech, debate, and model United Nations awards; actor in plays; and designer of the class ﬂag, a parade ﬂoat, and book covers. But it was his highly publicized 1963 graduation speech [he thought he could avoid the controversy by fleeing the continent] that turned out to be the moﬆ memorable—years later he was informed it was the inspiration for one of the organizers of the Berkeley ﬆudent revolt.
In 1964, he poﬆponed his second semeﬆer at the University of Hawaii to sail the South Paciﬁc. He learned to make tapa cloth while living with natives in American Samoa. Upon returning home, he attended the California College of the Arts on a full scholarship.
Four years later, his portfolio of geometric drawings landed him artiﬆ-in-residence at the Coach House Press in Toronto, where numerous of his works of art were reproduced, including one for a friend, the poet Allen Ginsberg. He silk-screened some of these images, including one fractal design before the term “fractal” was even devised. His invention at the Coach House of photographic watermarking garnered him a key to Massey College at the University of Toronto. Throughout the 1970s, he held lectures at the university, ran its papermaking lab, and consulted on the papermaking display at the Ontario Science Centre—plus he also represented Canada at the 1ﬆ International Handmade Paper Conference in Appleton, Wisconsin.
By the ﬆart of the 1980s, he was known as the “Papersmith”, aﬅer relocating his paper ﬆudio from a farm in Beaverton to an old mill in Cambridge, Ontario. For two decades he made paper by hand from friends’ clothing and the ﬂax he grew, for such notable personages as writer, Margaret Atwood and artiﬆ, Norval Morrisseau.
A process he coined (called pulp-painting) has become part of some art schools’ curriculum. Many artiﬆs all across North America now call themselves pulp-painters. In Toronto, he was represented by the Isaacs Gallery in the 1970s, the Geraldine Davis Gallery in the 1980s, and Gallery Moos until very recently.
The Art Gallery of Ontario displayed a neon sculpture made from one of Andrew’s designs for twenty-ﬁve years and sponsored many of his paper-art shows throughout Ontario. His art has been exhibited in major foreign exhibitions in Germany, Brazil, and as far away as Japan. His art has also made it into important public collections such as Cambridge Galleries, the Art Gallery of Ontario, and the National Gallery of Canada. In addition, he has been granted numerous art awards; articles about him have been featured in the Globe and Mail, Quill & Quire Magazine, and Maclean’s; and he has been showcased on TVO, and even Fashion TV, plus several other programs.
One particular oil painting by Andrew (the deathbed dream of his mother) Morning Walk, which took him more than a decade to ſinish, is considered by many viewers to be a maﬆerpiece. For the next seven years, he inﬆalled other artiﬆs’ artwork at Design@Riverside in the University of Waterloo School of Architecture. He has since returned to his geometric roots, working both two-dimensionally and sculpturally, and is now considered the “thinking person’s artist”1. His Protomid sculpture (based on a spiral he invented) was recently displayed at the Exhibition of Mathematical Art in Seattle, Washington. Viewers of other related artwork by him, which was shown in Atlanta, Georgia, prompted him to write an academic paper about his unique spiral. His paper was published in the Bridges Waterloo 2017 Proceedings, in conjunction with the exhibition of his twenty-one-foot triptych, Protogon Shiﬅ, at the University of Waterloo Art Gallery. He continues to reside in Galt, Cambridge, self-represented.
1. R. Reid. “Cambridge artiﬆ turns the universe inside out”, The Record, Kitchener, Ontario, (Auguﬆ 28, 2014).