Charles Herndon is an accomplished artist who grew up in the Cleveland area and still calls Ohio his home. He attended Hawken School and later earned a B.F.A. degree in sculpture from The Cleveland Institute of Art and a B.A. degree in art history from Case Western Reserve University before earning a M.F.A. in sculpture from Syracuse University.
Herndon taught at The Columbus College of Art and Design for 34 years. Through the college he participated as a special guest lecturer and teacher at the 1995 International Stone Carving Symposium in Kasama, Japan where his works were also exhibited. In the United States, Herndon’s sculptures, paintings, and photography have been exhibited in galleries across the country from Washington D.C. to Hawaii. His work also appears in numerous museums, corporate and inidividual collections. "Professor" Herndon retired from The Columbus College of Art and Design in 2007.
He stays busy on Kelleys Island where he has two studios, two galleries, and a ten-acre sculpture garden. Located four miles from the Ohio mainland in the western basin of Lake Erie, the island itself is Herndon’s source of inspiration. As a child he spent summers with his grandparents on Kelleys Island and became fascinated by the unique wildlife and geology.
A WORD FROM THE ARTIST
I am often asked, “How did you ever get interested in doing what you do?" [asking about my work with stone]. I give them a simple answer, although the reasons for continuing to work with stone for over forty years are far from simple. I say, “As a child spending his summers on Kelleys Island, I spent a lot of time wandering around on the beach in front of my grandmother’s house. I know now, but didn’t then, that the island is basically one large chunk of limestone, hard enough to have resisted the erosive power of the glaciers of earlier ice ages. The beach consists of stones, cobbles, pebbles and sand sorted by weight, shape, contour and specific gravity in response to the action of the waves, the ice, and the current. The limestone bedrock has yielded slowly to the waves and to freezing and thawing, as large chunks break off, resulting in drop off shelves, as one enters the water. The chunks that break off are tumbled by wave action, are broken, tumbled and broken again and again. What results is a beach of limestone pieces, rounded but flat, as limestone cleaves most easily along sedimentary layers. Anyway… I took up skipping stones. The beach was great for finding good skippers. This involved some searching, some appreciation for the qualities of various potential, just right skippers. I also began to examine the qualities of the other stones. One interesting feature was, and is, that every stone had its own spider, the first line of defense against the clouds of insects that daily hatch out of the water, to mate and to penetrate the screens of the houses and gather around the evening lights. Then there were rocks unlike the whitish limestone, which is really ninety-nine point nine percent of the mass of the beach. These were colored stones, most often found at the water’s edge. Their specific gravity is greater than that of the limestone, so the limestone is thrown further by the waves. They are also more resistant, because of their hardness. I collected those I found to be most beautiful. These are the erratics. Later, when I began carving stones I returned to them, thought about why they were the way they were and brought those musings into the language of the work. In college I took a geology class. My interest has not waned.”