guest post: sam: "art and craft in the snyder family"

Monday, September 13, 2010

last but not least, my youngest brother, sam from headwaters.

A fondness for art and craft runs in our immediate family. Starting with our mother, whose pottery graces tables and appetites.  Our father is as skilled a writer as he is a doctor.  In an unconventional sense our brother is the ultimate artist. A strategist, schemer, one who sees the grand plan, pulls it together, and makes it happen.

We share a fondness for artisanal cuisine.  Growing, harvesting, and of course cooking.  This is one reason we love Greece, the food.  And a major reason I am jealous I am not there right now -  Feta, small fishes, flat bread, tzatziki, olives, and capers.

We prefer those arts with purpose.  We appreciate the painting on the wall, but would prefer a ceramic mug, made with love, filled with warm coffee or two fingers of bourbon.

You know, from this blog - Lucy touches fabric, and it defines functional art.  A quilt to keep you warm on a frosty winter night or a wooly hat to protect my ears from the wind off Alaska’s Chugach mountains.

I took painting lessons as a child; I always loved to draw. I play music with my friends, yet never sing a song. Growing food, while hard in Alaska, is a passion for sure, but the preparation is the best part, crafting meals for all to enjoy.

These days, my crafting is a different sort, yet functional all the same.  With a bit of deer hair, colored wool, rooster tail or chenille I make small “flies” – Fake bugs, tiny fish, or nothing in particular at all. Their function - to catch fish.  Big fish, small fish, elegant fish, and edible fish (such as salmon).

For each of us, despite our differences, we all find a bit of healing in artistic ways. Lucy found community through knitting and her blog, our mother finds strength in the spin of the pottery wheel. Art, indeed, can heal. It can also lead us to fight for things important to us: family, friends, or endangered spaces.

My passion for fish has led me into the middle of the biggest environmental fight in Alaskan history – protecting Bristol Bay, the world’s largest sockeye ecosystem from the ravages of a proposed open pit mine – North America’s largest. It is a greedy quest for gold versus the red gold of salmon.

Art or craft steadies our nerves, gives us a focus, and most importantly puts us into action – whether contemplative or engaged. To all you artists out there how has art led you toward healing, or drawn you to fight for your passions, things important to you? 


  1. We missed you both...Good job in your blog...xoxo

  2. When I was in high school I was something of a rebel, I suppose. A crusader. I often argued for more effective teaching staff, better lunch food, equality amongst peer groups. You know, traditional idealistic teenage stuff.

    When I started high school I was one of the popular girls. And although I had friends, many of them, in "powerful places" I wasn't happy. I was so defined by who I was friends with. I couldn't talk to my locker neighbor, a boy who shared a skit with me each year in the school's homecoming festivities. Because he was a "choir kid."

    I finally said ENOUGH by the time I reached junior year. I chopped my hair, pierced my tongue, pasted snowboard stickers all over everything and ventured in a new direction. And I enrolled in my first art class.

    Later, I would become a member of my high school's Art Team and would compete in regionals and state team competitions. I found solice in art. In creating. I wasn't really any good...but it made me happy. My art didn't care what battle I was fighting. That we needed more food in the cafeteria, or that the clicks had gotten out of control. It didn't care that I didn't have a boyfriend, or that boys didn't really find me girlfriend material, for that matter. It didn't care that I was just a little bit fat. Or that I kind of, sort of looked a little bit like Jonathan Taylor Thomas from "Home Improvement."

    I found Allen Ginsberg through art. I read "Howl." I found Jack Kerouac. And started listening intently to the words of Janice Joplin. And the Beatles. And other musicians that my mom rocked out to when she lived in the Haight in the 70's.

    Art gave me the kind of friend I needed when I was seventeen. A soul sister. A companion who knew all my secrets and loved me anyway.

    Perhaps that is now why I knit. And quilt. And have ventured into the world of photography. I may have laid my brushes down, and given up altogether on anything resembling ceramics, but I still have my outlets.

    They, too, have led me in directions I never would have gone otherwise.

    One of those directions is here.


  3. Oh, one more thing:

    Keep fighting the good fight, Sam.
    A large reason for America's decline is the utter lack of people like you.

    People who stand up to things that aren't right.
    People who fight, and fight hard.

    Even if they might not win.