Nature leaves its impression on Carol Snyder – and, in turn, on the ceramic pieces she creates.
Each wheel-thrown piece is marked by imagery Snyder has seen outdoors: A tree line or cut corn stalks are evident in the ragged rim of a bowl, the pure, white porcelain the perfect backdrop for intricate patterns.
The pieces marked by nature have ultimately left their mark on the local art arena. Snyder has received numerous awards, most recently Best of Show from the 2012 Upper Arlington Labor Day Arts Festival, Best of Show at the 2012 Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show and an Individual Artist Fellowship Award from the Greater Columbus Arts Council in 2011.
Growing up, Snyder drew inspiration from mountains and trees, and when she moved to Columbus from the Washington, D.C. area to attend the Columbus College of Art and Design, she was surprised by the change in terrain.
“I’ve really learned to appreciate and absolutely love the flat landscape we have here,” Snyder says.
All her work is inspired by patterns in landscapes she sees, whether traveling or on her bike in the farm country that surrounds her Hilliard neighborhood. She records the imagery she sees with a camera, a sketchbook or just her own memory. She doesn’t aim to duplicate what she’s seen in her pieces. Rather, she wants to capture what she felt when out in nature.
“Every season, there is something happening,” she says.
Snyder wasn’t introduced to ceramics until college, where she quickly learned to love the peaceful, meditative act of using a potter’s wheel. After she discovered porcelain, she never returned to any other type of clay, admiring the way the medium reacts to light.
Keeping her work very minimal, Snyder shies away from glazes or color, instead opting for carved patterns. Once the clay on the wheel gets to the right consistency, she carves, using little chisels or her husband’s screwdrivers.
“I just pick up anything,” she says.
Trimming the piece on the wheel, Snyder uses a homemade light table to see how the finished product will appear. In the clay’s “bone dry” stage, she is able to finely sand it, creating a smooth surface. Finished pieces are then high-fired in her kiln, taking about 11 hours to properly fire.
The creative process takes a considerable amount of time. Every four months, Snyder creates about 10 new pieces, working in the evenings on a few pieces at a time after returning home from her part-time job as fairs coordinator for the Ohio Craft Museum and Ohio Designer Craftsmen, located in Grandview Heights.
Now that her 21-year-old son and 18-year-old daughter are grown, Snyder can more fully focus on her work. She ultimately wants her work in galleries; the past few years, she has been attending art shows and festivals.
Still, attending fewer shows also gives Snyder the ability to devote more time to artistic experimentation. Her vessels are a play on proportion, with the free-standing pieces symbolizing ultimate balance. But Snyder is beginning to demand more from her media, starting to pierce and cut through the porcelain instead of just carving it. While most other clays withstand some push and pull, porcelain is less malleable, its pristine surface easily showing cracks from stress.
“It remembers what you did,” Snyder says.
Snyder is also playing with two-dimensional art, creating very thin wall pieces made of two or three overlapping, separate pieces of clay. As with her other pieces, she is inspired by natural images, such as a freshly plowed field.
“When I look out, I see blocks of patterns or lines of some sort,” she says.
Sarah Sole is a contributing writer. Feedback welcome at email@example.com.