Michigan-based ceramic artist, Caitlin Snyder, has been pursuing her BFA in Art and Design with a concentration in ceramics for the past several years, honing her storytelling in works fueled by social issues. An ex-English major and bibliphile, she employs fantasy and reverie in her art as a platform to discuss themes like feminism, societal issues, and social injustice. Snyder uses her knowledge and experience in concept art to create precise digital designs that the mythical ideas into a ceramic reality. Snyder believes that the physicality of ceramics offers the unique potential of reigning in the farthest reaches of her imagination; She gravitates towards clay because the medium allows her to work the narrative out with her hands, creating work that makes social issues legible to others, feeding her mind, body, and soul in the process.
This wall-hung collection of wide, shallow bowls celebrates the era of acceptance that society is fighting to enter, highlighting the huge paradigm shift in societal expectations regarding body image and beauty standards. Designs are centered around modern icons who are changing the status quo; a mix of symmetrical repeating patterns, photos of today’s game-changing celebrities, and images taken from 1950’s advertisements and comic books create a collage-style composition that celebrates what can only be described as an evolution in acceptance. I’ve chosen celebrities who deal with specific sects in the new world order of beauty standards – Lizzo represents body size acceptance, Harry Styles for androgyny and gender-fluid fashion, Rhianna represents sex positivity and size inclusivity (as the owner of the world’s first major size-inclusive lingerie brand and fashion show), Lil Nas x for openly celebrating lgbtq+ representation, and Billie Eilish for androgynous fashion and against sexualization of underage women in the media. This body of works’ focus was very much on surface design, layering pattern, and imagery to create contrast between old beauty standards and current body positivity and acceptance.
These forms were created in the same scale as the notorious kitschy, collectible plates we all know and love, with my own variation of concave edges. The concept of a physical embodiment of acceptance and celebration of diversity being displayed proudly on someone’s wall or mantle is very heartwarming to me. In times of great social change throughout history, people will always butt heads and disagree, and we find ourselves in one of the greatest examples of that currently, whether that be in terms of marriage laws, women’s reproductive rights, fighting racism, or any example of the abundance of diversity and inclusion issues we are seeing unfold. Upholding what we view as right is becoming increasingly important, but it’s so much easier to do so and educate others on tough issues when we make it fun and applicable to things they see in their own lives, like celebrities and collectible plates. Beauty standards and the way we view ourselves isn’t just an issue for women or queer people or people of color or nonbinary/transgender people, this is something everyone goes through and compares themselves to, so it’s very important to me that this is an installation that everyone can view and, hopefully, enjoy.