MacArthur Foundation fellow Joan Snyder, 68, presents new paintings at the Neilsen Gallery in Boston, and ten politically-charged photocollages at the Danforth Museum in Framingham. In the Boston Globe, Cate McQuaid reports that Snyder’s paintings at Neilsen don’t merely gush; they have a bristling intelligence. “She’s essentially an Abstract Expressionist with a feminist agenda; in many ways, a creature of another era. She overcomes that hurdle with layered, complex works that have immediacy and depth. They’re not exactly subtle; they crash into you like a wave. But Snyder’s a master with color and a daredevil with texture and materials, and the result is thrilling….’Ode and Joy’ reads like a slurpy valentine. Those breast-like circles, red and mixed with a medium that glistens, could be lollipops, hovering on a creamy field blushing with other tones and dribbled over with dancing skeins of paint. The sense, as with most of Snyder’s paintings, is one of release and surrender. Sometimes it’s into grief, and sometimes it’s into creation or exultation. Her works embody letting go, something we all need to do sometimes.”
In the September issue of The Brooklyn Rail, Snyder met with Rail publisher Phong Bui in her Brooklyn studio. Here’s an excerpt of their conversation.
Rail: When or how did the use of the grid come about?
Snyder: The grid came about not so much because of minimalism, although that was in the air, but for myself in a few other ways. One was that when I was teaching art to children, they were making paintings and drawings on lined paper. That caught my eye. I knew that I wanted my work to have a narrative feel and one day while I was working, I looked at the tongue and groove white wall at my Mulberry Street loft and I noticed that it had little delicate drips on it from my brush strokes, and I suddenly said to myself, “That’s what I want my paintings to look like,” And so I started incorporating the drips on the grids. They have been a very important element ever since. Every grid that I’ve ever made has been different. I’ve rarely made the same grid twice. But it was a structure for me to either destroy on the way to making the painting or stay within like a musical staff, providing order. I was also involved in what I called ‘the anatomy of a stroke’—my own version of cubism. I wanted to be able to see the process through the stroke, to see the canvas, the underpainting, the drawing, etc. And then I began painting paint strokes.”
Joan Snyder receives MacArthur genius award