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Sculpting a Lifestyle You Love

How artist Craig Snyder has left his mark on our city

Someday, if there is a competition to enter for those of us who enjoy painting with watercolors in coloring books, please let me know. While I wouldn’t expect to win a grand prize for the many pages I have painted to date, I can’t deny its therapeutic benefits. When I carve out that precious hour or so from an already too-hectic schedule, my blood pressure subsides immediately. A tranquility fills my mind and soul, which becomes my personal grand prize. I doubt anyone would call it “art,” but I love how it simplifies my day, even if for an hour. Perhaps art is medicinal. After all, just as an aspirin can relieve the pain of a headache within a short time, my mood improves significantly from the first stroke of the brush and lasts throughout the remainder of the day.

I recently met local sculptor Craig Snyder from Plymouth to ask about his metal sculpture “FIREFALL,” which sits prominently in front of the Hopkins Center for The Arts entrance on Mainstreet in Hopkins. From the moment we sat down, I saw something very different in his eyes. I could only compare it to the excitement seen in a child’s eyes on the eve of Christmas. As he spoke of his sculpting, his personality bubbled to the surface with enthusiasm. There truly was a sparkle in his eyes that elevated my interest to learn more. 

For many years, Craig made a living as a web designer and still does. However, in 2009, he felt an urge to do something different. Craig decided to take an eight-week-long welding class at the Minnetonka Center for the Arts in Orono. As if magical, he fell in love with the art of welding, and as with anything one pours their heart into, his talents began to exceed even his expectations. Today, there are many very large “Craig Snyder sculptures” around our country. 

The colorful FIREFALL sculpture that welcomes all visitors to the Hopkins Center for the Arts is eleven feet tall. At times, it is necessary to use a flatbed and crane for the installation of his larger sculptures. Craig’s “Moment of Tangency” is 20 feet tall and can be found at the Bridge Water Bank in St. Louis Park. I was curious about the inspiration for this piece so I asked Craig if he could expound. “Life is a series of connections. We crave a meaningful relationship between ourselves, our colleagues, and the natural world. There’s a moment of tangency in everyone’s life as we make that incredible journey, which leads to joy, sorrow, and the entire range of human emotion. We never know who we will meet on the path,” says Craig.

I wondered if it was difficult to find supplies for his larger pieces, and apparently, it is not. Who knew there are actual metal warehouses here in Minnesota where he can find stainless steel and aluminum pieces large enough to weld into these amazing pieces of art? Craig occasionally will use found objects that he picks up from recently demolished buildings but doesn’t need to rely on that source alone. I was also curious about his usage of color in some of his pieces. “I have always loved color in sculpture, so I have used color since the beginning. The problem is maintenance. The sun and elements are brutal on color, so it must be repainted or stained regularly.”

Craig enjoys talking about his craft. “It’s kind of fun. I love meeting people who are enthusiastic about a new, commissioned piece that I am working on in their area.” He continues, “Sculpting is my thing; working in three dimensions appeals to me in so many ways. I enjoy the collaboration and teamwork when putting together a large piece. It’s really the ultimate showcase for my work. It’s out there for all the world to see, to love it, or leave it.”

When asked how he would like to be remembered, he replied, ”Ideally, I’d like to be remembered as a great and well-known sculptor who made amazing public art. If not that, I’m happy just to be known as a person who enjoyed his family, friends, and life.”

See more of Craig's incredible work here: Fireshapes.com

I love meeting people who are enthusiastic about a new, commissioned piece that I am working on in their area. 

Sculpting is my thing; working in three dimensions appeals to me in so many ways. I enjoy the collaboration and teamwork when putting together a large piece. It’s really the ultimate showcase for my work. 

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