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Sharl G. Smith, Embrace II, 2023. Stainless steel spheres, stainless steel wire rope.
6′ x 3′ x 2′. Collection of the artist.

Embrace II Acquisition Campaign

The Canadian Clay & Glass Gallery is excited to launch a fundraising campaign to support the acquisition of Embrace II, an artwork by Waterloo-based artist Sharl G. Smith. Currently on temporary display at the front steps of the Gallery, our acquisition of this monumental work would allow for its long-term exhibition. The purchase of this work would ensure that it can be enjoyed by our community day and night for years to come. The first step in the reinvigoration of our outdoor public art, this major acquisition marks our commitment to making art and diverse stories accessible to our community.

While Embrace II is made from stainless steel, it is directly related to and stems from Sharl Smith’s glass beadwork practice. Like her works exhibited at the Gallery in “Beyond the Bead” alongside the work of Barry Ace, this piece takes traditional beadwork and pushes it into a new realm. In this case, it is also a large-scale piece that is suitable for long-term outdoor public display. While the Gallery’s mandate and collections policy are centred on ceramics, glass, and enamel, we also highlight and support artists who are pushing the boundaries of these mediums and exploring new and innovative ways to engage the public, particularly as we engage with ongoing decolonization, equity, and diversity initiatives.

To realize the display of Embrace II, including costs for this piece’s acquisition, permanent installation, insurance, and maintenance of this piece, we need your support! We ask you to please consider making a donation to support this acquisition for the enjoyment of our community well into the future.

Gifts of $2,500 or more will be recognized on a plaque mounted near the artwork. All donors will be recognized on the Gallery website, on our supporter display inside the Gallery, and in our IMPACT annual report.

Make a Donation Today!

About the Artwork

Using custom-made stainless-steel beads in place of traditional glass seed beads, Sharl G. Smith expands her beadwork to stunning installations. In a medium often seen as “women’s work” and thus subject to the disparity of value between male and female labour, Smith alters our perceptions with life-size public sculpture. The tiny details of traditional beading have become magnified. In the mirror-polished stainless steel, we also experience the addition of a clear reflection that multiplies and expands within the work. This mirroring also creates an additional implication of the viewer. The piece not only demands our attention through its scale, but also reflects our own image back at us. As we explore the form, we find ourselves.

About the Artist

Sharl G. Smith is an artist based out of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. Through a process called bead-stitching, she produces each piece by hand-stitching glass beads together, one bead at a time. Sharl’s art practice is informed by her architectural background and especially her training in a Zen Buddhist design/build firm in California which specialized in hand-crafted architecture through Japanese Joinery. Her time there has left a lasting impression on her and has instilled a deep reverence for craftsmanship, minimalism and the ‘process as practice’.

Sharl was born and raised in Jamaica, W.I. She moved to New York City in 1998 to attend university where she obtained a Bachelor of Architecture degree in 2003. Sharl continued to live in various parts of the US, working as a designer and architectural professional for 12 years before moving to Canada. She has been working as a full-time artist since 2015.