Sarah Regan Snavely studio - clay scraps & plastic wrap

My studio is located in a small town in extreme southwestern North Dakota called Bowman. Bowman was a founded as a railroad stop in 1907. The population of the city of Bowman is around 1600 people, with about 3200 people in the county (also called Bowman). It is a nice place to live.

Sarah Regan Snavely studio

My studio is located in my backyard. A wooden sidewalk stretches from the back door of the house to the studio’s door. Built in 1987 as a place to house my father’s collection of antique motorcycles, I make sculptural work in the building now. My childhood dog, Joshua, is buried underneath the slab the studio sits upon.

Sarah Regan Snavely studio

I was born and grew up in Bowman. I left to go to university, and planned never to return. Plans are funny things.

Sarah Regan Snavely studio

My studio houses my kilns, an ancient slab roller that I would like to replace, lots of clay and storage, and my pug mill. The photo on the left shows the pugs from the pug mill. I love my pug mill. How did I get along without it? On slow or uninspired work days I pug clay – taking the scraps and turning it into usable, blended, soft clay again.

Sarah Regan Snavely studio

I started working in clay when I was a child, but my BFA degree is in Visual Arts-Printmaking. I love making prints. I love ink and paper and the process of working on the plates and running an edition. Somewhere along the line I thought “what if I could make prints on clay” and then I began making ceramic tiles. I didn’t know how to do it, so I borrowed a book from the public library called, Handmade Tiles: Designing, Making, Decorating by Frank Giorgini. Most of my first tiles were funky and warped. With time I learned how to make flat tiles.

Sarah Regan Snavely studio

Then I wanted to make sculptures. I had made small models out of polymer clay to understand the light source for my prints. How would I make those figures out of clay? I started with a bag of earthenware, bought a used kiln, and started modeling my Greyhounds in clay. My mother was a high school art teacher. She (and the instruction manual for the kiln) taught me how to fire the kiln. I liked the results, but wanted the figures to be better.

Sarah Regan Snavely studio

In 2006, I received an Individual Artist Fellowship from the North Dakota Council on the Arts. That fellowship was pivotal in many ways- the biggest goal being I gained confidence in my work. In 2008, I received a Bush Foundation grant. That grant provided funds to attend a 2 week workshop at the Archie Bray Foundation for the Ceramic Arts in Helena, Montana in 2009. Attending that workshop was a big step forward. I needed to learn more about clay, to commit more of my time to the studio, and seriously dig in to my artistic practice.

Sarah Regan Snavely studio

My studio does not have a wall of windows overlooking a glamorous vista of a National Park. It isn’t ready for an Architectural Digest photo shoot. But it is integral to my process of making my sculptures.

2 Comments

  1. Linzey Carlson
    September 18, 2013

    Hello! Just wanted to tell you I LOVE your work!! I too,am an artist,but I do not work in clay……and I also have greyhounds! Two, Doogie Bowser,and Arroh. Arroh has only been with us a couple weeks and is terrified of men,(abused at the race track he came from) therefor will not go near my husband…..will take a long time for him to heal…….Was wondering ~~ do you let your greyhounds out together without muzzles? The rescue we got them from said we should not let them out without them…..Your art is breathtaking! the greyhounds are so elegant looking….I draw and paint dogs,horses and Indian paintings in honor of my American Indian heritage…..I just wanted to tell you I think your work is splended and ask you about your life with your greys……..Thanks! Linzey

    Reply
  2. Beccolina
    September 20, 2014

    I love your work (Especially the mug with the greyhound on it). I own a staghound and we are in the process of adopting a retired racing greyhound. You bring out the beauty of the hounds so perfectly!

    PS My family is from the Rhame, ND area.

    Reply

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