The Summer Becomes a Room
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Canada is pleased to present The Summer Becomes a Room, Joan Snyder’s first exhibition with the gallery. Joan Snyder has been making expressive, materially complex paintings for over 50 years. Snyder first rose to prominence for her ‘stroke’ paintings, made in the late 1960’s and early 70’s during the male-dominated era of Minimalism and Color Field painting. These early experiments with mark-making and the grid were the first step in a career marked by wildly tactile paintings that are both formally rigorous and emotionally raw. Snyder has always drawn from the emotional content of her life and, as an early and active Feminist, from the political terrain of the times.
The Summer Becomes a Room consists of a series of large-scale works, some diptychs, that reference fields and landscapes. They are expanses of bold color, punctuated by tender arrangements of symbols and text, collaged with burlap, silk, and organic matter like dried flowers, mud, and herbs. In these paintings, Snyder alludes to seasons and cycles–referencing music and poetry–and meditates on themes of trauma and love. Each step of the painting process is equal to any other for Snyder who takes care to let the viewer access each step of a painting’s creation. Through this stance she offers us agency and insight; the drive to demystify painting stands as an empowering concept for the artist and viewer alike.
Snyder’s work has been a long time inspiration to Canada and this show is a fitting tribute to her impact as an artist and mentor. Joan’s commitment to her vision—sticking to her guns through ups and downs—is an act of artistic bravery. She is counted among a handful of artists who have been able to shift the dialogue about both painting and women’s voices in our culture as a whole. Wallace Whitney, one of the gallery’s founding partners, worked as Joan’s studio assistant in the mid-90’s and her practice made an impact on his own. Whitney notes Joan’s intuitive approach, her use of varied raw materials, and her commitment to the handmade as touchstones which would later inform the paintings and painters Canada went on to champion. In conjunction with the show, Canada is publishing a catalog with essays by Sean Scully and Helen Molesworth and an introduction by Wallace Whitney.
Snyder has been the subject of many museum shows, and was recently included in Epic Abstraction: Pollock to Herrera at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (December 2018, ongoing) and Unfinished: Thoughts Left Visible at the Met Breuer (2016).
She has been the subject of survey shows at the Jewish Museum, New York (2005); Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University, MA & The Parrish Art Museum, Water Mill, NY (1994). In 2011, the exhibition Dancing with the Dark: Prints by Joan Snyder 1963-2010 was organized by the Zimmerli Art Museum, Rutgers New Brunswick, NJ and toured to Boston University Art Gallery, MA; University of Richmond Museum, VA; and University of New Mexico Art Museum, NM.
Her paintings are included in numerous museum collections such as: the Museum of Modern Art; Metropolitan Museum of Art; Whitney Museum of American Art, the Brooklyn Museum of Art; The Jewish Museum, all in New York; The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA; the Art Institute of Chicago, Harvard Art Museums, The National Gallery, Washington, DC; and many more. She was the recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in 1974, the Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship in 1983, and the MacArthur Fellowship in 2007. She also received the Arts & Letters Award from the American Academy of Arts & Letters in 2016. Snyder received an AB from Douglass College in 1962 and an MFA from Rutgers University in 1966.