Leanne Schnepp is a sculptor living and teaching art full time in the East Lansing, Michigan area.
She was born in 1970. Her B.F.A. in Printmaking and Painting and emphasis in Art Education was received from Michigan State University. While teaching for several years, she continued to paint on canvas and to create murals for private collections.
Subsequent to that she attended the Post-Graduate program in Teaching and Curriculum at Michigan State University. In 1995 she began her work in clay at the Lansing Potter's Guild. While there she worked with sculptor Mark Chatterley and was introduced to large clay figure sculpture. She also studied with sculptor Alan Steinberg of Vermont working with story-telling and myth. In 2012 she learned the basics of welding from Vern Mesler and began incorporating welded steel into her ceramic works.
Recent Michigan solo exhibitions were held at Michigan Artists Gallery in Traverse City, Kubiak Gallery in Douglas, and Mackerel Sky Gallery in East Lansing.
When I sit down with clay, I usually begin making feet. I don’t particularly feel drawn to feet, but they do hold a person to the earth and thereby “ground” them. Feet that are disproportionately large help create the visual sense of a solid foundation. They almost become the ground on which they are standing. Most of my sculptures begin with these large feet, then moves up in any direction it needs to. They can sit, dance, pose, bend, or morph into animal forms such as coyotes or frogs.
Books greatly inform my work. I enjoy reading myths from various cultures, historical fiction, non-fiction, religious texts, and the historical accounts of various cultures. I greatly enjoy myths that speak of the connection between humans and animals such as in many Native American stories, the transformation of animals as in many African myths, and the symbolism of animals in Egyptian myths. The frog as a symbol of change and the willingness and inevitability of change has found its way into several of my pieces as well as the trickster coyote.
The sense of play and whimsy that are found in my work can be attributed to raising children. Reading stories about ants or princesses or monsters, talking about taking flight in dreams, pretending to be ponies or jedi knights can force a person to relax and stop taking life so seriously. In order to help even more, my son has accepted the job of comedian in our family and finds opportunities to test his skill. My daughter reminds us often of the importance of hugs. Between the two of them, I laugh and give and receive hugs on a daily basis.
Evidence of childhood can be found in many of my pieces. Constant movement and the desire to climb anything inspired my Climbing Figures. I enjoyed seeing my little humanoids climbing the walls and hanging out when I came into my studio, so I expanded the idea into other possibilities such as Cat Lady, Ninjas, and Break Out.
After spending a day in my daughter’s kindergarten class, the Monsters were born. They are so innocent and sweet looking but mischievous as well. I can’t help but laugh as they are coming to life.
My Small Seated Figures were inspired by the quiet moments that come with sleep, or at the end of the day, or when sitting on the porch holding hands. These moments are a gift and should be recognized as such. These little guys are my acknowledgement of those moments.
Little birds find their way into many of my pieces as well. Sometimes they are an integral part of the piece from the beginning and sometimes they are added in order to create a dialogue between the figure and another being. These small birds are spirit, they are the small voices that advise, they are intuition, the conscience, a moral compass. They are wisdom when it is needed.
I hope your experience with each piece is joyful, contemplative, peaceful, or simply brings a smile to your face or a lightness in your heart.