Joan Snyder (American b. 1940) is a contemporary artist originally from New Jersey. Snyder creates both paintings and highly integrated mixed-media pieces. Snyder also has recently created a series of monoprints that incorporate the printmaking techniques of lithography, woodblock, and monotype.

Snyder does more than just put material on paper she works the materials into the paper. She became well known in the 1960’s for her formalist “stroke” paintings.

Since the 1970’s her work has become very personal. Some of the issues her work addresses are: her companion, her daughter, her parents - aspects of her life including her Jewish heritage, feminism, love, sex and the cycle of life and death.

Some of the elements she integrates into her work are mud, straw, dried flowers and fabrics. Not only does she collage materials onto the canvas she also manipulates the canvas itself through cutting, stuffing, and sewing.

Snyder often considers her work very ritualistic. The diverse elements have more than an aesthetic and textural reasons for being; they exist to connect the two-dimensional work with the nature that was her inspiration. In an interview she once described her work as an “altar” that she makes “offerings” too, the collaged materials in this case being the offerings and the canvas being the altar.

Snyder also, however, recognizes the beauty of simple things in her life. She was inspired in her earlier works to incorporate grids and drips after paint dripped onto the wall slats in her studio. The meanings of Snyder’s works seem to go through a transformation just as the ideas behind them do. Her works begin as highly personal creations and form into universal truths. The issues she deals with in her own life through art are issues being dealt with all over the world. Snyder has the ability to express both extreme emotional intensity and joy.

Second to nature her major influence is music. She considers her canvas the landscape and the feelings that arise from the paint stokes she considers the sounds. The geometrical characteristics of her works are partially derived from music.

Text is also a prominent element in much of Snyder’s work. She uses both English and Hebrew as a means of expressing multiple aspects of her heritage. Her work is multidimensional not only in terms of personal iconography but also in terms of style. Snyder combines the loose, vivacious stokes of expressionism with the structure and geometry of grids.


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