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Social Justice Collection

…and acquainted with grief

Joan Snyder
American, b. 1940

Color etching, aquatint, woodcut, and linocut, hand-inked by the artist, on Rives BFK paper
Printer: Bob Townsend, R. E. Townsend Studio, Georgetown, Massachusetts
Edition: 10

SSWB 3841

In her early career, Joan Snyder incorporated all manner of material in her paintings such as herbs and vegetal matter, samples of cloth and sewing material, textural accessories such as paper mache and glitter. In addition to diverse material, her ideas often came from diverse art forms such as music, poetry and words. Snyder’s drive to experiment with materials and technique is a hallmark of her career as we see in this print. Here she references details from her earlier work in text such as silk, velvet, fur, blossoms; and art forms such as songs, symphonie and elegy. She also experimented with printing when she made this work combining two opposite techniques, intaglio and relief. What is meant by this? Critics suggest that this comprehensive collection of material, art forms, and techniques mirror the complexity of human experience or what one writer called the lovely mess of living.

Many of her works from the 1990s, honor the memory of her recently deceased parents and friends. This print was created in response to the death of her mother, who died of breast cancer and it references a multi-media diptych of the same title done the previous year. In the earlier work, the left panel is covered with words and the right with floral like shapes and marks. This print maintains that division albeit on one sheet of paper. Words in this print such as anxiety, PMS, pain, elegy, and breast, reference personal and communal emotions as well as experiences of suffering and loss. The arc of Snyder’s career goes through feminist anger, sorrow and loss, new love, and lately, calm. Another of her paintings is called Can We Turn Our Rage to Poetry? The last and only word on the right side of this print is ‘still,’ suggesting that she believes the answer to that question may be yes.

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