Sculpture artist Jimmy Don Snowden’s piece 8010 Dundee won first place in this year’s Art On Henderson 2019 collection. The sculpture is currently on view on Henderson Avenue. We asked the artist a few questions about the piece, about life in Texas as an artist, and more.
How long have you been working as a sculpture artist? How did your path as an artist come to be?
I have been producing public sculptural work for almost five years,
but have been making 3D work for much of my artistic career. When I
was playing baseball at a college in Dallas in the late 90’s I had a coach
that required his players to take a ceramics course. He claimed that
wedging clay would strengthen our wrists, and it would fulfill our art credit requirement. The professor of that course was Randy Broadnax, a fairly well-known figure in the clay world. He didn’t expect much from the
baseball guys, but he taught me how to throw pots. Years later I saw him
at a clay festival in Gruene, TX and gave him a mug I had made and
thanked him for his influence. He laughed and said I was one of the last
people he thought would pursue a career in art.
I was, and am still, a functional potter and that’s where it all started.
I enjoy relief printmaking and painting as well, but sculpture has given me
the freedom to create using all mediums. During my late 20’s I worked as
a maintenance mechanic for the Trinity River Authority where I honed my
skills as a welder. The skills I learned making functional things, whether
ceramics or metal fabrication, have been invaluable in my ability to
express myself artistically. In 2015 I went to grad school under the
tutelage of the Texas sculptor Jeffie Brewer, and he helped me
understand how to use my voice as an artist to create things that are
legible to the public while still holding their creative value.
I have had stacks of blue-collar jobs throughout the years, and I
treat my studio practices as such. Work makes work. I try not to let
concept stifle production, so I try to put in the time every day. That is the
abridged version of how this path came to be.
What has been your most challenging work to date and why?
The most challenging work is always the work on the horizon, the
thing in my mind that I haven’t found a way to express physically yet.
What is it like to live as a sculpture artist in Texas? How does it influence your work?
I wouldn’t consider myself a regional artist, but my work is heavily
influenced by my surroundings. Living in South Texas makes it harder on
the logistical side of things just being so far away from most opportunities,
but I would not trade it. When I graduated from grad school my father
asked me where I was going to teach, and I said anywhere thirty minutes
or closer to saltwater. In my mind there is something romantic about this
area and Texas in general. It is where I grew up and since a lot of my work
deals with the relationship between youth and mortality it makes sense that I would live in the area where some of my fondest memories were made.
What other artists or individuals inspire you and your work?
As I mentioned earlier, Jeffie Brewer and Randy Broadnax had a
hands on influence as well as Charles Wissinger. The work of Leonardo
Drew, Tara Donovan blows my hair back. I love Arturo Bustos woodcuts,
and paintings by Lloyd Walsh, Vincent Valdez and Alex De Leon.
What is your favorite place in the world to visit and why?
A couple of weeks ago I took a boat about 100 miles offshore in the
Gulf of Mexico and spent the night out there. I can’t say it is my favorite
place in the world, but it is very fresh on my mind. The vulnerability I felt
being so insignificant in that moment was and is hard to shake.
Thank you, Jimmy, for this incredible insight into your work and path as an artist. We are so honored to have your piece visible on Henderson Avenue as part of the 2019 collection. Learn more about the artist’s work on his website here and follow him on Instagram here.