“Art of Transformation” by John Clark Smith Cyberwit, Copyright 2023

“Art of Transformation” by John Clark Smith Cyberwit, Copyright 2023

“Art of Transformation” by John Clark Smith Cyberwit, Copyright 2023

The author indicates that this book resulted from a course he taught at the University of Toronto.

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“Art of Transformation” by John Clark Smith

Cyberwit, Copyright 2023

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Cyberwit.net (January 1, 2023)
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 556 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 8119228111
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-8119228119
  • Reading age ‏ : ‎ 4 years and up

Review by LB Sedlacek


“Art of Transformation” is an inspiring creation examining extraordinary and ordinary presentations of art. While in India, the author’s own experience encouraged him to seek and explore art that transforms.

Smith brings a unique perspective to what could be considered influential creative achievements of humankind.  He combines his personal experiences and examinations with a contemplative understanding of these transformations.  The book is divided into well-structured sections that consider the expressions of art.

The content is easily navigated.  The readers will be able to absorb and participate in each presentation. 

The author indicates that this book resulted from a course he taught at the University of Toronto. 

Smith states in his Introduction that “Therefore, to understand it, we need to consider many media of art, and not just traditional expressions but also the untraditional, not only what is ancient but what is avant-garde, not only from the West but equally what is from the East.”  His book ascertains to answer the question he poses, also stated in the Introduction, which is “How do we define and explore this art?”

One of the book’s many strengths is that it emphasizes somewhat of an introspection.  Instead of simply defining the art in descriptive terms, he attempts to provide a depth to the complexity of the understanding of said art object.  That is a valuable offering in the role of self-discovery relatable to how one may connect and/or view the art themselves perhaps achieving a better understanding of it, changing their view of it, or reevaluating it all together. 

Smith’s writing style is accessible.  He is easily able to convey his ideas and passions into a suitable and understandable manner for readers.


From 37. The Inspiration of the Last Supper:

“Another trait of the art of the Christians that we have

already seen in the art of the Jews, which the Christians probably

inherited from the Jews, is the use of scripture as a source of

subjects in sculpture, painting and stain glass in order, first, to

remind believers of an important sacred event, and, second, in the

case of the most powerful narrative paintings, to interpret and

explore the theological and spiritual meaning of the event.

Sometimes the artist will use the technique and principle of

discontinuity in telling the story, but the main purpose remains

mnemonic reverence. Mnemonic reverence is especially seen in

scenes in which the concept of struggle is inherent, i.e., the

Crucifixion, the Resurrection and the Last Supper, all key events in

the story of Jesus Christ.”


I found this examination particularly fascinating because Smith talks of various depictions of the Last Supper and their meanings.  I have visited a Fresco painting of the Last Supper in a church in a tiny town in the mountains of North Carolina.  I would be curious to hear how he would apply his identifying of the art of transformation to this piece.  Based on his discussions of other similar pieces, I myself began to rethink my view of the Fresco I have seen now viewing it as a contemplative way to transform how I view the Last Supper instead of a just a spectacular style of painting made by a rather unique local painter.

Smith’s book, “Art of Transformation,” is a guide or rather a compelling reference on a journey of art and its many meanings.  It not only is a valuable resource, but it is also a book that reminds us that art and how it transcends or transforms us is an integral part of what we might call a beautiful and profound way to view and/or experience our lives and life itself.





          ~LB Sedlacek is Poet/Writer and author of several books of poetry including “The Poet Next Door,” “Simultaneous Submissions,” “I’m No Robot,” “Swim,” and “Words and Bones.”  Her most recent short stories collections include “Motor Addiction & The Renovator” and “The Jackalope Committee & Other Short Stories.” Her poem novel is “The Blue Eyed Side.”