Slaithong Schmutzhart; Sculptor, Corcoran Teacher

Monday, January 30, 2006

Slaithong C. Schmutzhart, 72, who sculpted fanciful human and animal creations and was an associate professor at the Corcoran College of Art and Design for 22 years before retiring in 2002, died of cancer Jan. 19 at her home in Washington.

An accomplished sculptor, Mrs. Schmutzhart showed her lighthearted work in numerous solo and group exhibitions in the Washington area. Her art included welded and carved fantastic birds, beasts and people.

In 1997, she was one of seven artists formerly from Thailand and living in Washington who were invited to exhibit at the Royal Thai Embassy. In a Washington Post article about the exhibit, she said making her assemblage sculpture was the outcome of many years spent collecting discarded materials of wood, metal, glass and stone.

It was "a playful, enjoyable, forgiving learning process," she added.

Her art at the embassy exhibit reflected her Chinese background. Among the pieces were a Cor-Ten steel turtle, a Cor-Ten woman and a rectangle of resin "with waves that could hypnotize a viewer," The Post article said.

She also counted among her specialties backyard fountain sculptures.

Slaithong Chengtrakul Schmutzhart was born in Bangkok, the daughter of a noted Chinese woodcarver. She came to Washington in 1961 and received a bachelor's degree from Federal City College, now a part of the University of the District of Columbia.

She received a master of fine arts degree from George Washington University about 1980 and two certificates from the Corcoran in sculpture and ceramics.

She taught fine arts at Marymount College and American University before teaching sculpture at the Corcoran.

Mrs. Schmutzhart wrote in 1997 that her art reflected emotions, "whispering one's feelings at the silent moment when their eyes meet, a pose of timeless inner peace, a dignified graceful movement, or poking humorous thoughts at an unexpected surprise."

Her marriage to Berthold Schmutzhart ended in divorce.

Survivors include a brother and a twin sister.

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