“I see things in other people that are reflected in me” - Sylvia Snowden as quoted in Alice Thorson’s essay Engaging Expression.
Andrew Kreps Gallery is pleased to announce Green Paintings, an exhibition of recent works by Sylvia Snowden (b. 1942 Raleigh, NC), organized in collaboration with Franklin Parrasch Gallery, New York. The exhibition coincides with the publication of Sylvia Snowden: M Street, a new monograph published by American Art Catalogues that includes essays by curator Gavin Delahunty and art historian Rebecca VanDiver, and a lively conversation between Sylvia Snowden and Nathaniel Mary Quinn.
Sylvia Snowden has developed a singular body of work spanning six decades, which is characterized by a visceral and sculptural application of paint in which color and texture emerge from densely-worked underlayers. Working in series, Snowden’s work aims to depict the struggles and triumphs of humanity and dispel the societal myths that are used to push us apart. Most notable is Snowden’s M Street Series started in the late 70s after Snowden moved to Washington’s Shaw Neighborhood, where she still resides, which was marked by impending dislocation due to gentrification. Snowden aimed to portray the people she encountered within the neighborhood, many of whom were transient, unemployed, and/ or unhoused, depicting each with their own individual grace and dignity. Pushing against the bounds of the paintings’ frames, Snowden’s figures seem to urgently wrestle with the energetic abstractions that surround them, as a way to depict their resilience in the face of adversity.
Snowden’s recent series Green Paintings, which comprises the exhibition at 394 Broadway, demonstrates her ongoing belief in the potency of abstraction. Here, a thick impasto of acrylic, buttressed by plastic sheeting and other materials bears traces of the wide array of Snowden’s gestures - from brushes and palette knives. Within these energetic compositions, masses of saturated chemical color build on top of one another, suggesting ongoing movement. Throughout, Snowden displays a commitment to grappling with the process of translating creative energy into physical form, while leaving visible the traces of the works’ making.
Sylvia Snowden holds both Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees from Howard University, Washington, D.C. where she studied under James Porter, Lois Maillou Jones, James Wells, and David C. Driskell. She received a scholarship to Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Skowhegan, ME, and has a certificate from Académie de la Grande Chaumière, Paris, France. Snowden has taught at Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, Howard University (Washington, D.C.), and Yale University, New Haven, CT, and has served as an artist-in-residence, a panelist, visiting artist, lecturer/instructor, and curator in universities, galleries, and art schools in the United States and internationally. In 2021, Snowden had solo exhibitions at Franklin Parrasch Gallery, New York, and Parrasch Heijnen, Los Angeles. In 2018, Snowden’s work was notably featured in the landmark exhibition Magnetic Fields: Expanding American Abstraction, 1960-Today at the National Museum for Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C. alongside fellow Howard University alumnae Mildred Thompson, Alma Thomas, and Mary Lovelace O’Neal. Snowden has also exhibited at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Montclair Art Museum, Montclair, NJ; Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, MD; Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art at Cornell University, Ithaca, NY; The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.; Heckscher Museum of Art, Huntington, NY; and the National Archives for Black Women’s History (NABWH) of the Mary McLeod Bethune Council House National Historic Site (MAMC), Washington, D.C.