Richard Zane Smith

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Richard Zane Smith (born 1955) is a Wyandot sculptor who grew up in St. Louis Missouri and learned the art of pottery at the Kansas City Art institute. Smith's works draw from his ancient Wyandotte heritage as well as Pueblo inspired designs that incorporate coils and layers within the clay. Smith utilizes the influences of many Southwestern pottery styles, including the Navajo and the Ancient Puebloans.

Personal life[edit]

Richard Zane Smith was born in 1955 and is from the Wyandot families of Kansas and related to several Wyandotte families in Oklahoma [1].[2] Born in and Army Hospital in Augusta Georgia and grew up in and near St. Louis, Missouri. Smith specialized in ceramics when he attended the Kansas City Art institute.

Smith was introduced to art at a young age. He and his four siblings would gather around and listen to many stories told by their parents throughout their childhood. Smith found an interest in clay during his high school years. In addition to clay, Smith would work with many natural materials, such as wood, leather, and stone, and the main media for his art was clay. During these same years, Smith also formed an interest with his Wyandot roots.[3]

Smith is involved in the rebirth of the Wyandot language [4].[5] Having gone into disuse in the 1960s, Smith began studying and teaching the language to Wyandotte people of Kansas and those who live in northeastern Oklahoma.[6]

Cultural inspiration[edit]

In 1978, Smith traveled to Arizona where he worked as an art instructor at a Navajo mission school. This was his first contact with native clays and Ancient Puebloan (or anasazi) potsherds and fragments.[7] He incorporated such ideas into his works and bore a new style of pottery.[8] Smith's pottery has been described as reminiscent of pre-historic corrugated pottery (pottery where the coils made to form the shape of the pot are left exposed and are rough textured) from the southwest as well as resembling the ancient basket-works of the Wyandot people.[9] It is also cited as being unique to Smith as well as a representation of his roots in Anasazi pottery as well as his Wyandot heritage.[10]

Select artworks[edit]

  • “Op-Art” Geometric Design Jar (2000)
  • Corrugated Bowl with Wood/Rock Handle (2005)
  • Garden Set of 6 Pieces (2001)
  • Bury my Heart at Auschwitz (1995)
  • Bear Baiting an Indian (2017)[11]



  • Philbrook Museum of Art
  • The American Craft Museum
  • Denver Art Museum
  • "The Last Drop: Intoxicating Pottery, Past and Present"

Honors and awards[edit]

  • "Best of Pottery Award", Heard Museum's Annual American Art juried Competition[14]
  • 2010 "Community Spirit Award", First Peoples Fund[15]

Richard Zane Smith no longer participates in competitions against other artists.[16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Richard Zane Smith
  2. ^ Warren, Stephen, 1970- editor. (2017-09-19). The Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma : resilience through adversity. ISBN 978-0-8061-6101-3. OCLC 1004564496. {{cite book}}: |last= has generic name (help)CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  3. ^ "Richard Zane Smith #020417 • Native American Collections". Native American Collections. Retrieved 2020-02-18.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  4. ^ Richard Zane Smith
  5. ^ "Troubled tonguesSome Indian languages in Oklahoma are among those on an endangered list". 2007-09-19. Retrieved 2020-02-18.
  6. ^ s Richard Zane Smith
  7. ^ "Zane Smith, Richard (b. 1955) Archives - King Galleries". Retrieved 2020-02-18.
  8. ^ Strong, David M. Jacka, Jerry D. Beyond tradition. Jacka, Lois Essary. Beyond tradition. (1989), Beyond tradition : contemporary Indian art and its evolution, Jacka Photography, OCLC 932071717{{citation}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  9. ^ Cohen Lee (Lee M.) [VNV] (1993). Art of clay : timeless pottery of the southwest. Clear Light Publishers. ISBN 0-940666-19-7. OCLC 1108717290.
  10. ^ "An Art Museum for the University of Iowa". Art Journal. 29 (1): 48–50. 1969. doi:10.2307/775280. ISSN 0004-3249. JSTOR 775280.
  11. ^ "Richard Zane Smith (OK)". THE LAST DROP: INTOXICATING POTTERY, PAST AND PRESENT. Retrieved 2020-03-03.
  12. ^ "NATIVE AMERICAN – Collections – Philbrook Museum of Art". Retrieved 2020-02-18.
  13. ^ Heard Museum. (2002). Masterworks from the Heard Museum. Heard Museum. ISBN 0-934351-67-8. OCLC 49900447.
  14. ^ "Richard Zane Smith's Artwork". Retrieved 2020-02-18.
  15. ^ "Richard Zane Smith". First Peoples Fund. Retrieved 2020-02-18.
  16. ^ Richard Zane Smith

External links[edit]