Artist Spotlight: Melissa Cowper-Smith

“Once Later” by Melissa Cowper-Smith, 2021, gouache paint, pigment print, handmade cotton paper with dried botanicals, encaustic on panel, 20×24.


“The artwork is based on images of my zinnia garden, a jumble of bright blooms busy with life. At the top of the piece, as well as in a few other spots, you can see pressed dried leaves. They float as though they are slowly falling. Taken with the title ‘Once Later,’ the work evokes a sense of cyclical time, both expressing this moment in the garden and the flow of the changing seasons.”

Melissa Cowper-Smith is a multimedia artist currently living and working at her place, Wildland Gardens, near Morrilton, Arkansas. Originally from Alberta, Canada, she studied art at the University of Victoria before moving to the U.S. in 2002 to complete a masters of art degree at Hunter College in New York City.

While in New York she met her husband James Dow, a philosopher of mind who has an interest in art and aesthetics. The two moved to Arkansas along with their son in 2011.

Using permaculture design theories, Cowper-Smith developed Wildland Gardens. She grows hundreds of varieties of medicinal, food, fiber and flower plants. She uses her gardens as both inspiration and material for her work. She has gained mastery in papermaking, often using fiber plants from the garden. Her unique and original work is a combination of handmade paper, photography, painting, pigment printing and encaustic (beeswax and natural damar resin).

Cowper-Smith has received many awards for her art, such as inclusion in the juried Delta Exhibition with the Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts, an individual artist fellowship with the Arkansas Arts Council and an artist scholarship from the Arkansas Committee of the National Museum for Women in the Arts.

Find her work locally at Boswell Mourot Fine Art and at Follow her on Instagram, Facebook, TikTok and Twitter.

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