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For most of us, the link between pottery, cycling and industrial landscapes may not be readily evident. But for ceramic-based artist Stacy Snyder they are intrinsically intertwined. “My work has always been inspired by architecture—especially utilitarian forms such as barns, corn cribs, water towers and European villages where form follows function, materials, geography and climate. I draw real parallels between the form of a pot being determined in a similar way and find inspiration for form and surface decoration,” says Snyder, who graduated with a ceramics and photography degree from Indiana University in 1994.
By:James Startt | Image:Greg Stalley
“I find an enormous amount of inspiration in the photographs of Bernd and Hilla Becher,” continues Snyder, who often watched the iconic Little 500 bike race while in Bloomington. “I love the simple and straightforward compositions of water towers, coal mines or steel mills captured in their work.”
But while Snyder loves the cool austerity of Becher photographs, she is also attracted to the highly subjective work of Austrian expressionist painter Egon Schiele. And somehow this unlikely grouping of very different artists brought her to cycling. “I recently rediscovered the landscape paintings of Schiele. Those European villages that he painted speak to me. They are a large part of what I love about watching bike races when they roll through them. I can see the colors of a Schiele painting in a peloton winding its way through a village, and I can see the architecture and the roof lines of the Bechers’ photographs in the helicopter shots that follow the race.”
Perhaps you are already aware of Snyder’s work, as she has collaborated with The Cycling Podcast for several years, selling her TCP coffee cups for various fundraising drives that touch both Snyder and TCP. Or better yet, perhaps you have been one of the lucky recipients of her Cupworthy series, individually designed cups with a cycling motif that she simply offers to riders or people in the sport.
Or perhaps you simply know Snyder’s work, which often brings together the abstract nature of sculpture with pottery’s more utilitarian nature. And while many of her cups, pots, vases and plates have a distinctive purpose, they are often stand-alone works that can play off against each other when several pieces are grouped together.
“One of the best things about being a ceramic artist and functional potter is the idea that a piece, like a cup, plate, bowl or vase, can easily enter into someone’s life. I wish for my pots to be a part of a home in an intimate way, adding a sense of character and individuality to the daily habits of eating and drinking,” Snyder says. But while the utilitarian nature is rooted in all her work, her sense of form is unique, capable of possessing its own identity. A flower vase for example can call to mind architectural forms, and she even produces a line of “house” vases and plates.
In addition to the intriguing forms, Snyder’s painting and glazing has a distinctive signature, one that juxtaposes fine lines and bold organic colors. “I am always seeking contrast in my work—a contrast of colors, bold versus delicate, shiny versus matte glazes, and rustic versus refined,” says Snyder, who remains a committed cyclist around her home in Virginia. “I work to create a layered effect with the surfaces, hoping to find a depth of surface with the layers of glazes, decal images and color.”
You’re forgiven if you do not know Snyder’s work. But in that case, well, check it out at stacysnyder.com