In her newest body of work Shifting Territory, Smith focuses on gestural motions and the graphic aspects in her work. The foundation of the series comes from her collection of vintage kimono fabric and a striped dead stock yardage originally intended for men's suit lining. Smith found this striped silk 20 years ago in the Garment District of New York City. She was drawn to this particular fabric because she felt it looked like a drawing before she ever made her first cut. She works with fabric as if a painter would work with paint, creating gestural and graphic abstract works while the use of vintage textiles brings it's own history to the work.
"About to embark on a movement to more color in my work I was gifted the opportunity to use a larger studio while preparing for this show. With a physical distance now literally possible between me, the sewing machine and the wall, I found myself unable to see. I think trying to find clarity was part of the catalyst to the limit the pallet to black and white for this exhibition. To explore the bold gestures with weight and scale and the subtle nuances the fabric can create from an intimate distance or a larger expanse of space."
By meticulously fusing two layers of her pieced fabric Smith captures the translucent quality of the kimono and silk. As graphic patterns and seams emerge within the piece viewers are allowed an intimate gaze into the notion of duality and reconceived medium. As Smith evolves within her practice she continues to redefine her textile work from that of simple bits of fabric and thread to a series of textile-based drawings propelling her towards new explorations.
Textile artist Debra Smith embodies a balanced duality of craftwork and fine art. As a third-generation weaver she creates exquisite Sakiori scarves woven by hand from precious kimono fabric. As a graduate of both the Kansas City Art Institute (BFA in fibers) and the Fashion Institute of Technology (Associates in Applied Science) Smith approaches fabric as poetic language and reinterprets the painterly through her meditative process of cutting and piecing her artwork.