A naturalist and representational sculptor, Geoffrey Smith’s award-winning artwork depicts the vast diversity of Florida wildlife with striking realism, deep emotion, and a strong sense of unfolding action. This is evident in the stillness of his wading water birds, the majesty of his soaring eagles, the grace of his 19foot-tall leaping sailfish and the “motion” of his dazzlingly ornate coral reefs.
After selecting him as its official wildlife sculptor, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission honored Geoffrey for “excellence in capturing the beauty of Florida’s wildlife and in appreciation for outstanding artistic contributions to Florida’s wildlife resources.” Geoffrey is also currently creating the Neil Armstrong Award to honor Astronaut Scholar Alumni "who exemplify personal character, professional achievement and impact in their field."
Worldwide recognition: Celebrated across Florida, around the nation and most recently—on the international stage, Geoffrey’s artwork distinguishes numerous public parks, fountains, and city walkways on the Treasure Coast and in his hometown of Stuart. He was also commissioned to create original sculptures for national and international dignitaries, including U.S. presidents.
Most recently, President Trump chose Geoffrey’s lotus sculpture as his gift for Pope Francis during his historic inaugural visit to Europe in May 2017. Geoffrey’s lotus sculpture now sits in the Vatican. Its title—“Rising Above”—proved somewhat prescient, at least on a regional level. When news of the gift and its artist drew only rave reviews and a sense of community pride on social media, an area news commentator praised Geoffrey’s artwork for indeed rising above the divisive din of political discord.
Starting young: Discovering a love of sculpting when carving decoys at age 15, Geoffrey started casting bronzes in 1984. He developed his love of the outdoors and wildlife observation growing up on the coast of northern California and later in the wilderness of Montana, where he graduated from Montana State University.
Into the wild: A conservationist and avid outdoorsman, Geoffrey practices what his sculptures preach—the importance and magnificence of experiencing the wonder and beauty of Florida’s wildlife outdoors and inperson. He regularly spends time deep in the Everglades and just off Florida’s coasts, usually bringing his children—who are cultivating their own promising artistic talents—along with him.
Such expeditions attest to why Geoffrey’s artwork so masterfully recreates the sense of wildlife in its natural habitat. He often photographs his subjects before drawing and sculpting them, making his artwork “near living” dispatches from Florida’s natural world—which far too few of us regularly visit. Even if we don’t all get to experience Florida wildlife the way Geoffrey does, the lifelikeness of his sculptures puts us on-scene and in the moment. We are transported to the edge of a marshland, the base of a nest, the depths of a reef.
Fortunately for Floridians, Geoffrey is as prolific as he is passionate. His work—which includes bottlenose dolphins, sea turtles, marlins, manatees, river otters, alligators and more— adorns scores of public places.
Eco-crisis hits home: When his hometown of Stuart made international headlines as large release of toxic water and subsequent algal blooms degraded its St. Lucie River and storied Indian River Lagoon—the most biologically diverse estuary in North America—Geoffrey collaborated with the City of Stuart on a public art project.
Geoffrey’s six Florida water birds—ranging from 4-feet to 8-feet-tall—now dot Stuart’s downtown area. Amid public protests, political promises and blistering press coverage over the water crisis, Geoffrey’s sculptures magnified the focus on the animals plagued by the algae, giving voice to their plight and, again, rising above disagreement and division. The sculptures—today testament to the region’s hope and defiance in the face of ecological disaster—also complement Geoffrey’s Stuart sculpture honoring the region’s historic reputation. His 19-foot-tall Stuart Sailfish Monument Fountain pays homage to an area known as the “Sailfish Capitol of the World.”
Bronze process: Smith casts his sculptures using the ancient lostwax method.
Tedious and difficult, lost-wax casting preserves the details of the original clay sculpture using multiple molds and molten bronze heated to more than 2,100 degrees Fahrenheit. The finished product is strong enough to withstand the test of time.
“You protect what you love, and you love what you’re familiar with—what you’re connected to. My sculptures are about paying homage to the beauty in our environment, but also inspiring a desire to get out on the water, get out in the woods. That kind of personal connection is what can lead to lifelong stewardship.” ~ Geoffrey Smith