Syd Carpenter’s sculptural work engages the cultivation of the land, whether by referencing natural growth and productivity in its subject matter, drawing on family histories of farming, or by being formed from the earth itself in its clay medium. Motifs of beans or seeds – round, full, and brimming with new life – feature prominently in her work, as do baskets, canning jars, and other implements of harvest. The clothespin, a gently curving abstracted representation of the female form, appears large and strong, as nurturer and protectress over the homestead, the earth, and the family. Carpenter’s free-standing and wall-mounted Farm Portraits delve more deeply into family, referencing specific tracts of land owned and worked by African Americans across the American south. Incorporating highly personalized imagery relevant to individual people and their experiences, these portraits focus on the intimate relationships to the land that these families have developed and maintained for generations.
Carpenter, a sculptor who works primarily with clay, wood, and steel, earned her BFA and MFA from Temple University’s Tyler School of Art, and is Professor of Studio Art at Swarthmore College. Her work can be found in the collections of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Renwick Gallery, Skidmore College’s Tang Museum, Petrucci Collection of African American Art, Atlantic Richfield Corporation, Nabisco Brands, University of Illinois, Art in General, Philadelphia Convention Center, Bell Atlantic Corporation, Canton Ohio Museum of Art, Erie Museum of Art, Jingdezhen Ceramic Institute (Jingdezhen China), and in numerous private collections.
Opening Reception, Sat., March 10, 6-9pm