Third Street Gallery archive: 2018 Exhibitions: Selected Works: Drawing, Mixed Media, and Ceramics by Keith Schneider

Humboldt State University Third Street Gallery is pleased to present a solo exhibition featuring a survey of works by Keith Schneider. Ranging over the years of 1996-2017, the exhibition, Selected Works: Drawing, Mixed Media, and Ceramics, will feature many works by the artist that have never been exhibited on California’s North Coast.  The exhibition will run through May 13.

Schneider’s œuvre is an amalgamation of his life’s passions and pursuits.  Animated by a love of play and experimentation, Schneider allows his work to speak for itself, in order to evoke personal emotions and interpretations from his audience members. 

Aesthetically, Keith Schneider is interested in objects that “wear” their history or appear to do so. Since his graduate school days Schneider has been developing a community of unique characters, populated by animals, human-like figures and totems.  Themes and symbols of shelter, labor, transportation, journeys, music, song and companionship further inform this artist’s world. In the artist’s words, “The life story that each object could tell remains a mystery; but the hint of its past adds a layer of richness, even when drawn over or partially obscured by paint.”
When working in collage and mixed-media sculpture, Schneider engages in free-form improvisation as he uses everything from household items to sidewalk debris to inform his art.  His drawings, however, evince a careful, focused eye and a disciplined hand, yielding rich pieces that simultaneously portray his quirky characters while serving as a meditation on drawing itself.  In his ceramic work he creates thrown ceramic vessels (vase and urn forms) as the underlying foundation of his characters’ physical shape; and in turn, he often gives some of his characters a vessel of their own, such as a boat or wagon.

To impart such richness to his ceramics, Schneider utilizes trompe l’oeil (a trick of the eye), manipulating the clay to appear as if it were another material such as fabric, leather or wood.  Schneider effectively uses the language of fabric to create characters with individual personalities and expressive facial features.  A master of ceramic glazing technique, he easily conveys the delicate nostalgia of a vintage toy, a bit worn out, but nevertheless cherished. The use of buttons for eyes, wheels and wooden limbs evoke a mélange of pathos and humor.  These objects emanate a bittersweet energy, each character bringing a unique backstory to the mix.

“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 worried and perplexed, some quizzical and amused, some mischievous and playful. As I live with these characters, I believe that they speak to me about myself.”

Schneider knew early in his life that art was the path he wanted follow. He left Southern California to move to California’s North Coast in the 1980s where he completed a Masters of Art at Humboldt State University.  He then wanted to take his art to the next level and completed a Masters in Fine Arts from University of California, Santa Barbara.  Having been familiar with the area, Schneider moved back to Humboldt where he has established himself as an art professor, teaching ceramics and drawing at Humboldt State University.

His work has been exhibited in galleries nationwide and he has been the recipient of numerous awards for his art. Schneider has been featured in Ceramics Now magazine and at the SOFA (Sculpture Objects and Functional Art and Design Fair) in Chicago.

Selected Works; Drawing, Mixed-Media, and Ceramics, by Keith Schneider, is produced by Humboldt State students enrolled in the Art Museum and Gallery Practices Program.  These students participate in the daily management and planning of exhibitions at the gallery.  The gallery provides real-life opportunities for the students to develop their gallery and museum skills, which in turn provides them with experience that will help them to enter the job market. Many students who have participated in the program have gone on to careers in museums and galleries throughout the nation.

Gallery Talk by the Artist

Keith Schneider will give a talk about his work on Saturday April 21 at 3 p.m.  Come meet the artist as he guides you through the exhibition.

Exhibition Schedule

This exhibition will run from April 3 through May 13. A reception for the artist will be held on Saturday, April 7, from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. during Eureka’s monthly Arts Alive event. The gallery is open Tuesday through Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.  Those planning group tours are encouraged to call ahead. Humboldt State University Third Street Gallery is located at 416 Third Street Eureka, California.  In 2016 the gallery was relocated and renamed after 19 years in its former location on First Street in Eureka. For more information call 707-443-6363.

For many years, I have been attracted to objects that “wear” their history, and have collected these things, such as old toys, maps, pencils, and sheet music as inspiration for my ceramic pieces, and to use in my assemblages and collages. I like the quality of these things, and how time has given them a story that can be read into them.

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 my pieces is that they are made with the quality of assemblage in mind. Over the years, I’ve attempted to use this idea of collage and assemblage as a thematic starting point, and I hope that this sensibility is present to the viewer in most, if not all of the work that I make.

In my ceramic work, inspired by things I have scavenged, I often invent my own “found” objects and materials.  In my more recent 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.


Keith Schneider
Spring, 2018