We meet legendary artist Sylvia Snowden from her home in Washington DC where she has been painting for the past 60+ years!
Known for her use of abundantly thick, layered paint, Snowden has developed a visual language in which gems of colour and texture emerge from densely-worked under layers. From dark and earthy tones to the vibrant and artificial, Snowden’s command of chromatic range is the fuel of her expressionistic style. Over the course of her more than five-decade-long career, in which she has always painted in series, Snowden developed an adroitness with her medium. She initially employed oil paint and pastels then moved toward acrylic–a less toxic and faster-drying alternative–after having children. Snowden paints sculpturally, her compositions range from larger-than-life to portrait-sized. Her process allows visible evidence of constructed layers and employs impasto that interacts with her bold figures caught in motion with physical weight.
Snowden’s voluminous bodies, often contrapposto, are surrounded by peaks of shifting chroma in a physical manifestation of feeling; she depicts the tension and intensity of life, and the troubled, optimistic, and dramatic elements of our sublime existence. Snowden encapsulates the psychological essence of her subjects–some of whom were unhoused and transient, displaced by gentrification, others with whom she had intimate or long-term relationships–their triumphs, paranoia, agony, and anger are all visible; these works convey an emotionally turbulent environment. Snowden’s expressive paintings reference the immediate lives of these individuals, and act as interpretations of each subject's psyche. As a serial painter, Snowden alternates between representation and abstraction, exhausting her emotional self between each mode as she articulates the struggles and successes of humanity.
Sylvia Snowden (b.1942, Raleigh, NC) spent her childhood in New Orleans. Aged 14, she and her family moved to Washington, D.C. Snowden’s parents Dr. George W. Snowden & Mrs. Jessie Burns Snowden encouraged her artistic pursuits at a young age, which led to her enrolment in the art department at Howard University. Snowden received a scholarship to Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Skowhegan, ME and has a certificate from La Grande Chaumier in Paris, France. She holds both a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Fine Arts degree from Howard University. At Howard University she studied under David C. Driskell. She has taught at Howard University, Cornell and Yale, has served as an artist-in-residence, a panelist, visiting artist, lecturer/instructor and curator in universities, galleries and art schools both in the United States and internationally.
Visit Sylvia's new exhibition 'M Street on White' until 28th October 2023 in London at Edel Assanti: https://edelassanti.com/exhibitions/118-sylvia-snowden-m-street-on-white/
Visit Sylvia's official website: https://sylviasnowden.com/
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