Debra Aalsburg Smale Bio
Debra is an artist of multiple mediums, creating in her studio in Brevard, NC. Originally from Grand Rapids, MI she earned both her BFA and MFA in metalsmithing and design from Michigan State University.
Married with 2 adult children, Debra and her husband David moved from Ada, MI to Brevard, NC in 2017.
Debra is often inspired by her 3 decade career in manufacturing, working in engineering, program management and technical sales, which offered her a diversity of experiences. Her sense of exploration presents opportunities for creative transformation in her art.
Debra’s Industrial Allegories record the transformation of manufacturing in relationship to advancements in technology and society. The pieces use shifting perspectives, diverse materials and symbols to enhance the viewers experience. The collages incorporate artifacts from her career in manufacturing and more recently, personal artifacts from her life. She endeavors to tell a story and create imagery reimagined from different times and experiences as well as bits and pieces of everyday life she finds inspiring.
The body of work Debra refers to as “Birds of a Feather” is a collection she started while getting her MFA in the late 70’s. The collection’s work commemorates women: women of accomplishment, women in her family and friends. The pieces show gratitude to the women they represent, for their contributions, struggles, love and support. These creations have taken on many forms: metal and wood sculptures, paintings and most recently sculptural textile birds using repurposed materials.
About “Birds of a Feather” from Karen Vander Werp - Grand Rapids, MI K LINN Interiors Grand Rapids, MI:
Debra always has a deliberate message behind her creative projects. I love her mission to acknowledge women of accomplishment in the form of birds. From fabric, shapes and fringe detail to beads and leg materials all are selected with relevance depicting the women they represent. These selections define their purpose, personalities and accomplishments.