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Skidmore College

Snyder to give Malloy Lecture March 18

March 16, 2014
Joan Snyder, by Marni Marjorelle
Joan Snyder (Photo by Marni Marjorelle)

Painter Joan Snyder, an artist known for a willingness to experiment with materials and technique, will deliver Skidmore’s Malloy Visiting Artist Lecture at 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 18. Free and open to the public, the lecture will be in the Filene Recital Hall on the Skidmore College campus.

The event marks a return to Saratoga Springs for Snyder, who was a guest artist at Yaddo, the Saratoga Springs artists’ retreat, in 2004. Snyder’s work was featured in “The Jewel Thief,” a critically acclaimed multi-media exhibition at Skidmore’s Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery in 2010-2011.

An abstract artist, Snyder is known for what Roberta Smith, writing in The New York Times, calls a “spirited, in-your-face, opulently textured, outrageously colorful style” developed over 40 years. That style, Smith added, “forces Abstract Expressionist fervor through a Minimalist sieve into its own private Idaho of Post-Minimalism.”

Snyder herself says, “I speak in a visual language that I’ve developed over many years. It’s an inner dialogue that often begins with some writing on tiny sketches while listening to music. These ideas for painting then appear on unbleached linen with many layers of paint and often other materials such a silk, burlap, dirt, dried flowers, berries, herbs, and glitter. Why, in the end, it all seems to work is a mystery, sometimes even to me.”

The MacArthur Foundation, which selected Snyder for one of its fellowships in 2007, believes that Snyder’s work communicates universal messages. In its award announcement the foundation noted, “While her paintings mirror her personal experience, the visual messages she provides through her images convey universal and readily understood emotions…. Snyder has extended the expressive potential of abstract painting and inspired a generation of emerging artists.”

"Because," by Joan Snyder
Because (2012), oil, acrylic, paper mache, herbs
on li
nen, 48 in. by 60 in. Courtesy of the artist
Tierney Gardarin, NYC.

A native of Highland Park, N.J., Snyder earned an A.B. degree at Douglass College and an M.F.A. degree at Rutgers University. She first gained public attention in the early 1970s with her gestural and elegant “stroke paintings,” which used the grid to deconstruct and retell the story of abstract painting. By the late ’70s, having abandoned the formality of the grid, Snyder began to more explicitly incorporate symbols and text, and the paintings took on a more complex materiality. These early works were included in the 1973 and 1981 Whitney biennials and the 1975 Corcoran Biennial. In addition to the MacArthur Foundation award, Snyder is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship and a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship.

In 2005 the Jewish Museum in New York City presented a 35-year survey of her work, which was later exhibited at the Danforth Museum in Framingham, Mass. Abrams Books published a monograph, Joan Snyder, in conjunction with the exhibition. In 2011, Dancing with the Dark: Joan Snyder Prints 1963-2010, a retrospective of Snyder’s prints, opened at the Zimmerli Art Museum in New Jersey and then traveled throughout the U.S.  Snyder’s work is included in many public collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Guggenheim Museum, and the Phillips Collection, among others. 


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