Cynthia Jeppson

Ceramic Artist – Studio 24

As a small child in Roy, Utah, Cynthia Jeppson recalls being filled with excitement driving into the “big city” of Ogden for shows at the grandly decorated Peery’s Egyptian Theater. Decades later, one of her own art pieces, an Egyptian vessel, would be purchased for display inside the Cairo-inspired theater of her childhood.

Many of Cynthia’s artworks, distinctive figured vessels of clay, reveal hidden inspirations deep within her from life experiences that are ever-changing. For a time it was the Mayan-influenced figure from her six weeks in the Yucatan; another season brought wild horses—local inspiration from the view of Fremont Island outside the picture window of her childhood home in Roy; and most recently, women with birds have appeared in her ceramic containers. Cynthia returns to these particular themes, “feeling compelled” and only moving on when it feels complete.

What remains constant throughout her work is “the theme of impermanence.” “Nothing lasts,” says Jeppson. “A vessel is empty space…nothing is necessary to have something.” True to form, she once displayed a large, entirely unfired installation at Utah Contemporary Arts in Salt Lake that was later dismantled without even a photo to capture what once stood.

Describing her human-like vessels as a metaphor, she raises questions: “Human, body, cup, or bowl…or is it the Grand Canyon? Is it the inner space or the outer space, and are they equal?”

This “inward” and at the same time “outward” is at the heart of her work. It’s a paradox, Cynthia says, that brings together two divergent elements—figure and vessel, male and female, movement and stillness, art and craft—”and we begin to understand the essential nature of oneness that pervades them both.” 

Cynthia always loved art but didn’t know she’d make a career of it until the opportunity came for her to attend Weber State University and ultimately earn a Master of Fine Arts degree from the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design, renowned as the best art school in the country. At one point in her career she taught mask and clay workshops for kids with disabilities through Art Access—and loved seeing kids dancing on tables or spin around on their wheelchairs when seeing their art. She’s had exhibitions all over the state, including Eccles Community Arts Center in Ogden, and earned the Fellowship Award from Utah Arts and Museums in 1997, the highest award an artist can receive in Utah.

“When I’m doing my art perhaps the primary reason is just a need to create… I find the process itself rewarding,” says Cynthia. “One thing that interests me about working in clay is that it’s just mud. Sometimes I feel like a kid that’s just playing in the mud….and that I can create something that is perhaps beautiful.”