When she was a child, Shirley Thomson-Smith wanted to be a fashion designer. That is, until she went to college and took a course in sculpting. “My dream changed in minutes,” she says. “It was like a light came on for me.” With the realities and responsibilities of a family, however, she put her dream on hold.
Oklahoma City has been her home for most of her life, but her family made several moves. One was to Durango, Colorado, where she met many Navajo women. United by gender and their strong, dominant husbands, they displayed resilience and silent strength that Thomson-Smith admired. “I was fascinated by those women. Their message was a nonverbal transmission of thought, feeling, and strength,” she says. “My figures are a synthesis of all these, particularly the strength and sturdiness inherent in Mexican and Native American women.”
“My figures are marked by flowing lines and simplified anatomy that suggest form and emotion without depending on detail,” Thomson-Smith says. “I work for movement and to evoke feelings.”