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Alisa Snyder: Far in Summer
Far in Summer 1995-96
In Alisa Snyder’s work, the modernist genres — landscape, figure, still life — are acknowledged and then departed from in an exploration of painted space and marginal subject matter. In her catalogue essay, Proximities, Ingrid Jenkner states that Snyder’s affinity for the landscape-in-microcosm may be seen as an extension of her interest in still life subjects. It is also a break-through in formal terms, freeing Snyder to engage more rigorously with a late modernist conception of pictorial space.
Far in Summer, a painting from Snyder's suite Proximities, takes as its subject matter the often overlooked vegetation found at the edge of residential plots and woodlots. Snyder's point of departure for this work is based on photographs of foliage that are closely cropped, omitting any indication of contextual positioning or depth. Snyder fills her canvas edge to edge with a painterly ode to the overlooked and unpretentious.
Given the ubiquity of nature photography, which includes similarly commonplace motifs, it is worth comparing the two representational conventions. Where a photographer might manipulate her depth of field, Snyder prefers to generalize. Photographic realism is not her objective. Painterly incident replaces naturalistic detail, imposing an illusory distance that allows the paintings to breath.
Jenkner continues, The paradox of distance and nearness assumes poetic meaning in Snyder’s paintings. As signifiers of marginal spaces, her clumps of weeds and scrub look all too familiar. As subjects in her paintings, however, they lose their botanical particularity and lend themselves to a process of knowledge that expands beyond simple recognition.
Alisa Snyder was a lecturer in Art History at Mount Saint Vincent University from 1994 to 1997.
KB and from Proximities by I. Jenkner