Syd Carpenter

Syd Carpenter

She // Her // Hers

[ID: A headshot of a woman with light-brown skin, dark tightly sprung curls cut short, and retro tortoiseshell rimmed glasses. Her smile creates gentle lines on her cheeks.]

Portrait photo courtesy of the artist.

Sculptor and Ceramicist
Philadelphia, PA
2023 USA Fellow

This award was generously supported by the Mellon Foundation.

Syd Carpenter’s work includes sculpture responding to African American farms and gardens. Carpenter began this work after purchasing her home in Philadelphia where she began gardening, following in the footsteps of her mother, Ernestine Carpenter, and her grandmother, Indiana Hutson. Both women were master gardeners.

She has been Professor of Studio Art at Swarthmore College since 1991, retiring in 2022. Since teaching, she is developing projects in landscape design in addition to producing sculptures. Awards include a Pew Fellowship in the Arts, multiple Leeway Foundation Fellowships, National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, the Peggy Chan Endowed Professorship of Black Studies, the James A. Renwick Educators Award, multiple Pennsylvania Council on the Arts grants, and a Center for Established and Emerging Artists Fellowship.

Her work is included in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian Institute (Washington, DC), the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Montreal Museum of Art, the Swedish National Museum (Stockholm), the African American Museum of Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (Philadelphia), the Tang Museum of Skidmore College (Saratoga Springs, NY), the Fuller Craft Museum (Brockton, MA), as well as many other public and private collections. Carpenter’s guest artist residencies include Haystack Mountain School of Crafts (Deer Isle, ME), Penland (Bakersville, NC), Peters Valley Center (Sandyston, NJ), and Bennington College (Bennington, VT), among others.
  • Artwork by Syd Carpenter
    Ramshackle Fence. Clay, graphite, acrylic, wood, dimensions 30 × 75 × 9 inches.
    [ID: A metallic sculpture hung on a yellow wall. The sculpture resembles a jumble of objects on top of wooden pallets. Objects include bottles, giant clothes pins, a large tin can, a miniature house, and a button-down shirt.]
  • Artwork by Syd Carpenter
    O'Neal Smalls. From the “Farm bowls” series. Stoneware ceramic, dimensions 13 × 23 × 17 inches.
    [ID: An unglazed red-brown ceramic sculpture of a house and horse sitting on the edge of a bowl, which is balanced on top of a brain.]
  • Artwork by Syd Carpenter
    Mary Howard. From the “Farm bowls” series. Stoneware ceramic, dimensions 15 × 20 × 22 inches.
    [ID: An unglazed red-brown ceramic sculpture of a toppled wagon and house perched around the edge of a bowl-shaped structure.]
Artwork by Syd Carpenter Artwork by Syd Carpenter Artwork by Syd Carpenter