Keith Schneider is a ceramic artist and Art Professor who lives and works in Arcata, on the northern California coast. He received his MFA degree from the University of California at Santa Barbara in 1985, and has been teaching ceramics and drawing at Humboldt State University since 1988. Keith’s artwork is exhibited throughout the United States, and he has won numerous awards for his ceramics as well as his two dimensional work. His work has been featured in a variety of publications, including Ceramics Monthly magazine, and since 2008 he has been featured at SOFA (Sculpture Objects and Functional Art) in Chicago.
"I am most interested in things that “wear” their history: torn and yellowed scraps of paper, old wooden toys, discarded pencils with labels worn, used shell casings, obsolete maps . . . each of these objects, or fragments of them, has a presence that compels me to collect them and use them in my work. The life story that each object could tell remains a mystery, but the hint of its past adds another layer of richness, even when drawn over or partially obscured by paint.
The assemblage materials that I use come from many different sources. But whether culled from thrift store bins, beach debris or sidewalk trash, the unifying factor in most of these pieces is that they are made with the quality of assemblage in mind. This quality is most evident in my two-dimensional and mixed-media work, but my ceramic work shares many of the same concerns.
In my ceramic work, inspired by things I have scavenged, I often invent my own “found” objects and materials. I try to create in them a sense of age comparable to that which I see in actual objects I have collected. I am then able to piece them together in much the same way as my assemblages.
In my more recent ceramic work, I have used clay “fabric” to dress up my characters and clay tape ands stitching to hold them together. Since facial expression is so important in defining the personality of each of my figures, using wrinkles, tears and holes in the clay fabric has opened up new and exciting options for achieving this.
My pieces are constructed from earthenware clay and fired to cone 03. Surface color is developed with underglazes, glazes, stains and sometimes lusters. I often begin my pieces with a wide variety of wheel thrown forms and put them together in combination with other elements; sometimes extruded pieces, sometimes press-molded or handbuilt. During this process, I try not to be too cerebral, but instead, attempt to react directly to what is visually in front of me and trust my instincts.
Often, as I am working, these pieces take on a life of their own and it is interesting to me that some of my characters seem anxious and overwhelmed, some worried and perplexed, some quizzical and amused. As I live with these characters, I believe that they speak to me about myself.