Howie's childhood exploration of the forests and abandoned quarries of Central New York encouraged his sense of wonderment and discovery. His work is exhibited in galleries, on the street, in sculpture parks and in the wild.
Howie loves sewing and hiking and can often be found bringing hand sewn sculptures way out into the woods. He has taught welding, fabricating, sculpture and drawing and has collaborated with hundreds of artists to create functional and decorative public-art for temporary or permanent installation.
Howie is the Executive Director of the Steel Yard. An Industrial arts collaborative and community organization in Providence, RI.
Instagram: @softsculpture #howiensneider #thesteelyard @thesteelyard
Thoughts from a walk
Artwork is my exploration of the world. The natural, emotional and fanciful all collide. Art is beauty, healing and cathartic.
Art is not permanent, it should be given the chance to age and weather and evolve. Our experience of a single work can be fresh at each encounter. Art is present.
Photo of the red dot trail onto of Mt. Monadnock, NH.
a philosophy of things, rumination
there are two types of tools. those that repair things and those that are for living,
a saw for instance can be used either way. It can alter other things or it can be used as an instrument, itself a thing,
things are kept around for their eventual need. that is, we either need a thing now or want to make sure that we have it for an eventual need. I have a filter wrench for removing/installing oil filters from a car. I do not need it very often, it is a thing for maintenance on another thing. It is stored in a tool box with more things, themselves only used on occasion,
somethings are for immediate needs, we use them regularly, a plate, cook pot, spoon, shoe. these help us to perform the daily tasks of physical body maintenance. Even so, with these we pile for eventualities, guests and ceremony,
sentimental things have changed the way that we think about something else. The object itself becomes a trigger for a memory or a reminder of how our thoughts and understanding were changed. eventually, the original meaning is replaced by a sentimentality for how the thing has traveled through life with us, and its meaning becomes focussed on how it has been maintained and catalogued,
contemplative things are those that lead us to question our assumptions about things. art, books, relics, things for which there is not a clear function, we attribute higher or lower qualities,
An explorer is interested in discovery and the search for sentimental and contemplative things,
A collector is interested in the organization and maintenance of things.
Stone Quarry Hill Art Park
I had an amazing residency at the |//http://sqhap.org|Stone Quarry Hill Art Park| in Cazenovia, NY. While I was there I created my newest sculpture Outcropping. I also had the great honor of spending time with Dorothy Reister (happy 100th Birthday Dorothy!), the park's founder. Her vision has helped to shape the park into a place where art and nature meet on equal terms. Her studio is endlessly inspiring to work in, and her sculptures and studies, which cover the walls and shelves are worthy of close examination.
If you get a chance, go check it out, and take advantage of the miles of trails, wide views and many sculptures which share a home at the Art Park.
Rhode Island Foundation Fellowship
The RISD Alumni Blog featured a brief right up about my RI Foundation Fellowship.
Photo of my classroom at the Banff Leadership School.
An Interview with AS220
My interview with Jayme Allard for AS220 about the Flourish show at the AS220 project space.
JA: What about sculpture has you spellbound as an artist? Is sculpture an art form that speaks to viewers more effectively, providing dimension allowing them to graft concepts more easily?
HS: In many ways it’s curiosity that leads me to create three-dimensional work. I love the reveal and the experience of walking around a sculpture or being immersed in an installation. We have to rely on our imaginations to complete the form that we are looking at because we can never take it all in simultaneously. I try to take advantage of that by creating dynamic forms, which change depending on the direction of approach, and always keep me guessing.
JA: Did your interest in Public Art grow because you feel it’s more accessible to society and reaches a broader audience? Or is it simply a result of your interest in creating a place where art and nature meet?
HS: My interest in public art goes back to my major influences as a young artist. I remember being drawn to graffiti, to building of forts in the woods, to skateboarding at the museum in Syracuse, NY. The art that spoke to me was accessible, and it was also egalitarian. I found the same culture in Providence when I first showed work in the Convergence art festival in 2002. There was a concerted effort as a community to have a conversation about art, and it played out in public spaces.
Since then the interaction between art and environment has become more important to me. Just in the last year I have begun really exploring ways to join the two thematically as well as actually. As a Providence resident/city dweller the natural spaces that I utilize are for the most part public, so that is where I am drawn to create installations. Public spaces are part of my everyday and there are things which I’d like to create, but I also very much appreciate seeing the work of others, it keeps things interesting. To make a nature analogy, a daily commute through the woods is different everyday and year to year. Things grow and move and break and sink and slide. We lose some of that daily revelation in an urban situation, at least in scale. Public art reintroduces those shifts and Ah Hah moments back into our experience.
JA: Could you expound on the importance of nature and art to you?
HS: Art is made of materials. All materials come from somewhere. I am always thinking about my impact as a person in the world. It doesn’t rule every decision for me, but I try to be conscious of it. I think artists and builders/creators are acutely aware of the value of our natural resources. We are big consumers. I express myself through the arrangement of materials, materials that speak for me when I am not around. It has actually taken me years to come to terms with this. I believe that the value of artwork and the impact it can have justifies the use of raw materials, but i am always looking for a chance to re-purpose. I think about it because I want to protect and pay homage to the natural world, which we all come from, and which has given us so much. Now I find that I am beginning to make artwork about this relationship…
JA: Where would be your ideal public installation location be?
HS: My ideal public installation would be at the crossroads of nature and civilization. Maybe Prudence Island? I have been exploring there a few times and was absolutely fascinated by the extensive wildlife preserve entangled with the defunct military storage facility. With one lens I can see the Island as collection of every distinct Rhode Island landscapes I can name, and with another lens I see the scarification of our coastal resources and a healing that will take generations. I would love to engage a dialogue about that contrast and create a destination where we could experience that process at work.
JA: “Flourish” is comprised of installations within nature using natural formation and shape disguising modern technologies. Through these conflicting elements emerges a Big Brother tone; a place of free exploration and existence contrasted with surveillance. What are your thoughts on this perception of your work?
HS: I would agree in part. From the sculptures that contain living plants I have learned about entropy. Moss is the most sensitive material I have ever worked with by far. It must be watered with rain water or distilled water and it requires daily misting. It is vulnerable, it breathes, it has exposed my own fragility and mortality.
The rock formations as sculptures hide behind it, they are the impostors. They hint at natural forms, they bulge and slump in organic ways so that they distract from their mechanical appendages and apertures. To me they raise the question of authenticity. What tools do we use to determine if we can trust something? and how have we learned what or who to trust?
The are not meant to be sinister, but comforting. Like us, the sculptures ride the line between the natural and the synthetic.
The shelf containing the series of ‘witnesses’ is a different story. It is a series of portraits of those who cannot share. They all contain lenses, eyes to the world, and some even contain cameras, but their role as recorders is lost in their inability to communicate anything they have seen. The whole story of what they have been through has to be inferred from their scars, their markings and their wear. I think we are adept at reading emotions into technology, and judging age and era as well. The different cameras and lenses are foreign but familiar, they are all common, but out of place. In these pieces it is the camera which is exposed as we struggle to reconcile the biological cues with the mechanics.
The Summer 2011 Vista show at Socrates Sculpture Park
I create objects, images and installations that reflect the world around me along with the fora and fauna.
By creating series of objects and express that expose the myriad variations in nature.
Borrowing from the tradition of scholar stones.
I make pieces that exhibit different qualities of beauty and completeness. They appear as if found, of unknown origin.
I use materials affected by entropy, textiles, metal and wood, organic, they age and transform over time.
I reuse, up-cycle and gather from other excesses, salvage and surplus as a source. Preferring to give a second life to the medium.
Language cannot express that which is communicated through art.
It is an affirmation of the living world.
The Steel Yard press page!