Smelser's studio practice compares types, memories, and impressions of landscapes - examining how a place can be translated into an abstract image. Travel is important to her work as she contemplates the way the landscape of one’s childhood conditions how one approaches the world as an adult. Smelser's work is not an attempt to answer a question about this relationship, but rather to ruminate on the familiar and foreign feelings of place, landscape, and space, each with
its own punctuations, patterns, and sequence. Though Smelser has lived in the Midwest for more than 20 years, she feels indelibly branded by her experiences with the California coast of her childhood, and fundamentally defined by them. Smelser carries the redwoods, eucalyptus trees and the sight of the bay with her, and uses them as a filter through which to experience her travels, as well as the vast openness, ferocious wind, and orderly farmland of central Illinois.