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Newton ceramics artist has broad experience

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"Blue Sky" collaborator to give Greer Lecture at Bethel College

NORTH NEWTON, KAN. -- Conrad Snider’s home and studio are in Newton, but the Edmonton, Alta., native has spent much of his professional life in other places. He has worked at Anderson Ranch Art Center in Snowmass, Colo., first as a technical assistant to visiting clay artists, then as a staff member and kiln technician, and most recently as an assistant to renowned clay artist Peter Voulkos. He has been a visiting artist at colleges and universities in Arizona, Nebraska, Ohio, Indiana and Kansas, was the studio director at Watershed Center for Ceramic Arts in Edgecomb, Me., and helped design the ceramics facility at Acadia Summer Arts Program in Mount Desert Island, Me.

Perhaps Snider’s most adventurous job was his five-year apprenticeship to international artist Jun Kaneko which took him from Omaha, Neb., to Japan and The Netherlands.

Snider will give the 2004-05 Greer Lecture at Bethel College on Friday, Nov. 5, at 7:30 p.m. in Krehbiel Auditorium on the Bethel campus.

Snider’s formal education includes three years at Bethel, a summer at the Chautauqua Institution in Chautauqua, N.Y., and a bachelor of fine arts degree in ceramics from the Kansas City Art Institute.

Since 1995, Snider has worked full-time as an artist in his studio in a renovated turn-of-the-century feed mill near the Newton railroad tracks. There he has built two kilns, one of traditional size, and one large enough to fire figures and vessel forms that can reach a height of eight feet.

"One of my favorite moments that I spend with the figurative pieces," Snider says, "is the unloading of the kilns, to give this 400-pound ‘person,’ who is still warm from the kiln, a bear hug and drag it out into the world."

Some of Snider’s large vessels are built by hand, and others are thrown on a wheel using a foot pedal. His body of work includes tile murals, teapots, jars and bottles. Many of his vessels have been increasing in size in recent years.

Over the past decade, Snider has been profiled in several clay magazines, as well as the Wichita Times and the Wichita Register.

He has completed four large commissioned works, and is probably most familiar to Newton area residents for the "Blue Sky" collaborative piece in Newton’s Centennial Park, and a 50-square-foot mural utilizing prairie textures for Dyck Arboretum in Hesston. Snider’s work is in many private and public collections, including Emprise Bank and Raytheon Aircraft in Wichita.

The late Dr. Robert C. Goering, a native of Moundridge and a 1948 graduate of Bethel College, and his wife Amparo Goering, Wichita, initiated the Greer Fine Arts Endowment at Bethel College in 1979 in memory of Milford E. Greer, Jr., a native of Geuda Springs, Kan., and a close friend of the Goerings. Greer was interested in literature and music and excelled as an artist. He died in an auto accident in 1972 at age 45. The Greer Lecture Series brings visiting artists and scholars in the areas of music, visual arts or theater to the Bethel campus.

Conrad Snider will present his slide lecture on clay on November 5 at 7:30. A reception will follow in the Fine Arts Center gallery, where a collection of Snider’s work will be on display. Snider will also give two ceramics workshops, from 1-4 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, Nov. 4 and 5, in Franz Center Room 4 on the Bethel campus. All events are free and open to the public.

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