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The Unforgiving Work of Surprise

A sculptor chisels into marble shaping a human form
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Jordan Snow BFA ’22 doesn’t think before chiseling. And he doesn’t dwell on the results.

“That surprise is what I am looking for,” he says. “If I do knock something off, or if I do get frustrated with the stone and take my hammer to the head of a dude and it turns into something else, my work, it kind of lends itself to that.”

Snow direct carves marble and his pieces can have a rough, even unfinished effect.

“Catching the movement is almost more important to me than having a so-called academic finished project,” Snow explains. “I do reject the idea that something has to be polished to be finished.”

Jordan Snow leaning up against one of his sculptures.
Jordan Snow doesn’t plan his sculptures before chiseling. “Not to be like a Bob Ross kind of a guy — ‘that’s a beautiful mistake’— but really,” he says. “It’s kind of in that vein. That surprise is what I am looking for.”

For his senior project he regrets not leaving a note inviting people to touch the sculptures — not exactly a mindset found in fine art museums. But Snow is not exactly formal. He chats wearing Carhartts, hair powdered with alabaster dust.

“It’s that tactile aspect of my work that the viewer almost needs to grab a hold of to really appreciate,” Snow says.

He hauls marble dynamited from the mountains of Southern Utah to his cabin on the sand dunes near Oak City, Utah, where he keeps rock too big for Utah State University to warehouse.

“Where I am from you can still see the stars at night,” he says. “It’s the rock hunter’s paradise. … We’ve got topaz, red beryl, about every stone gem you can find. Most importantly, we have marble.”

Snow grew up ranching. He drew and painted in between mending fences and shifted to sculpting stone in 2013 after carving his first piece on the tailgate of his truck.

“Stone is unforgiving to where it is less manipulative that way,” he says. “I have to reach deeper, I think, in the creative process to really find whatever inside me.”

He often carves figures, but doesn’t work from photos. Sometimes an image, like a serpent, will grab him and races to finish a piece before it leaves.

Snow began attending USU in 2016 to learn traditional carving methods then went to Japan to learn bronzing techniques before pilgrimaging to Italy to view works like Michelangelo’s Moses. He recently returned to USU and set a personal record — finishing four sculptures in three and half months.

“The learning and the growth came because I have been hungry,” Snow says. “Creating something is wrestling with a horse. It brings out that child in me. I can keep going. I don’t need as much sleep or food or whatever. I just need to stay with the stone.”

By Kristen Munson

For inquiries contact Snow at jordansnowart@gmail.com

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