Buies Creek, N.C.-Campbell University Professor Breck Smith's works are currently on exhibit in the Louise Jones Brown Gallery in the Bryan Center at Duke University. Smith's paintings are said to be the visual equivalent of the Japanese poetic form "haiku." The paintings will be on display until Oct. 23.
Haiku combines form, content and language in a meaningful, yet compact way. Often composed of three lines with the first and third lines containing five syllables and the second line containing seven syllables, haiku must conform to a definite structure. Poetic themes generally relate to nature, feelings or experiences.
Smith first discovered the similarity between his paintings and haiku while he was in residence at the Vermont Studio Center in Eden, Vt.
"All of the paintings I was doing then were an attempt to paint moving water," Smith said. "The suggestion that my technique translated visually as haiku was made during a critique performed by visiting painters to the Vermont Center."
Smith says his approach to painting is similar to a writing technique attributed to 17th century Japanese haiku poet, Basho. Before he would begin writing, Basho would seat himself in front of his paper and wait for the "space" between poet and paper to disappear. When it seemed that the poem had begun to occupy its own space, it was finished.
Smith graduated from Averett College in Danville, Va., with a Bachelor of Arts in 1980. He received a Master of Fine Arts in 1982 from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. His paintings were selected for inclusion in the 2003 Bowery Gallery National Competition in New York and the 10th National Juried Show at the Art Center of Northern New Jersey, as well as the North Carolina Artists Exhibition at the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh. Smith is the recipient of a Visual Art Fellowship from the North Carolina Arts Council and was featured in a two-person show at the Chapel Hill Public Library. Works by Smith were also featured in the 2006 "Southern Landscape" exhibition at the Lee Hansley Gallery in Raleigh, N.C.
The exhibition at Duke contains 18 paintings in oils, acrylics and pencil.
Photo Copy: "Wasp Thrum, Bird Song," a painting by Campbell University Professor Breck Smith, is one of 18 paintings on exhibit at Duke University's Louise Jones Brown Gallery.