CCAD grad Carol Snyder balances discipline with play to create worldly work

Carol Snyder (Fine Arts, 1985) lives and makes art in central Ohio, but her ceramics practice has taken her around the world.

In 2017 Snyder was awarded a coveted Greater Columbus Arts Council Artist Residency in Dresden, Germany. She calls it a highlight of her career, getting to spend three months in the country creating work and lending a hand at the world-renowned Meissen Porcelain Manufactory.

“I'm not fearful about ‘playing,’” Snyder said, “which is actually true creativity at work and leads to new ideas.”

carol snyder portrait

“This experience is continuing to influence my work, as seen in some major shifts,” she said.

Even in its evolution, however, her work is always inspired by nature. Snyder’s ceramics lean into the aesthetic of form, as well as her interest in the patterns and textures of a landscape. Practicing the ceramic craft tradition of wheel-thrown vessels, Snyder’s sublime porcelain pieces encourage viewers to move beyond their perception of pottery as simple domestic objects. All this seems, well, natural to Snyder considering the repetitious physical requirements of making work on a wheel.

carol snyder working

“The peaceful process of centering and creating these vessels in the traditional way is comparable to the centered, meditative calm of the landscape,” she said. “Vast and monumental or humble.”

As her practice changes shape, she’s also begun creating interdisciplinary ceramics, incorporating drawing into the designs and patterns. Snyder said the lessons she learned at CCAD in the 1980s are still influential in her everyday practice decades later—particularly her work ethic.

“When I attended CCAD, critiques were harsh,” she said. “You had to be disciplined. You had to be creative. But [you had to have] a tough skin to take any criticism and learn to turn it around into a learning and growing experience for your work.”

Snyder’s CCAD-tough armor and discipline extends into how she balances her artistic practice with her day job. From her home studio, she generates work for five high-end craft shows per year. That number is strategic.

carol snyder working
clay trimmings
clay trimmings
carol snyder working
ceramic wheel

“I decided that if I did more shows to sell my work, I would be constantly producing for shows and actually lose precious time needed for experimentation and challenges—time needed for any artwork to grow and change,” she said. “I love connecting with the public at shows, but also try to apply and get accepted to as many national juried exhibitions as possible so my work can travel without me.”

In the past three years alone, Snyder’s been accepted into prestigious juried art shows across the country, including the Smithsonian Craft Show in Washington, D.C., Penrod Art Fair at the Indianapolis Art Museum, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art Contemporary Craft Show.

carol snyder work

Knowing that she is being lead along a path to new ideas and new work is Snyder’s favorite part of a ceramics career. She knows artmaking can take her wherever she wants to go: "I find myself thinking that whatever piece I'm currently working on is my most inspired, incorporating new ideas and lessons learned. But it's because of these current pieces and their subtle shift to things that are new, that something even more grand is on the way."

Learn more about CCAD’s Fine Arts and Contemporary Crafts programs and take a virtual tour of our studios to see where ceramics are made on campus. You can see more of Carol's work at the CCAD Art Fair & Marketplace.