When reading descriptions in the 2014 article featured in the Boston Globe of Dean Snyder's sculptures, certain adjectives escape writer Caitlin McQuaid's mind such as "nightmarish", "gaudy", "glowing", "tentacle-like" and "amputated". She further animates Snyder's work by saying that it "crawls" or may "squirm"- unusual attributes for inanimate objects, but maybe not so unusual for works of art. There is a level of expectation that art will affect us or move us in some way. McQuaid identified the delicious push-pull compulsion viewers may feel when observing the organic, writhing sculptures and drawings, admitting that "the works are pretty irresistible, sexy yet grotesque", "creeping, pushing, growing, always on the move".
There is no doubt that relationships, interaction and reaction are important dynamics in Snyder's pieces, and I do agree that his manipulation of originative materials (such as rawhide, carbon fiber, foam, or resin) into sinuous, organic forms gives us the impression of movement and vitality in his sculptures. The finish also lends to the liveliness. For example, the glossy smoothness utilized on some of his surfaces creates a sense of wetness or moisture that make us sense some sort of lifeforce whereas tattooed rawhide presents that matte finish suggestive of skin. The scale makes us step back: many of these pieces are large and extend towards the audience, sprawling out and spilling towards them in some capacity. Snyder pushes materials to expand beyond the confines of what they can do, challenging them to defy their origins and return to something that appears more natural than perhaps their chemical foundations in some cases. For all these reasons, this seems to be the pull that McQuaid speaks of that draws us closer: we want to examine those materials and finishes and forms. We repel when we get too close- either physically close to the sculpture or to an idea generated from our observations of it. This disturbance is the push we feel.
Dean joined us for Episode 74 of The Large Glass that originally aired on Tuesday, January 25th, 2022. Check it out!