Culture- ART FEATURE- <b>Partial disclosure: Snyder's fascinating revelations</b>
The smell of honeysuckle suffuses my memories of childhood summers, along with the buzzing crescendo of cicadas and the sight of trees enveloped in tan gauzy webs. Caterpillar trees. They fascinated me, especially when I could detect little bodies writhing within their translucent layers. They were at once beautiful and creepy.
I recalled that dual-edged delight while viewing Laura J. Snyder's exhibition, "Lightness and Weight," currently on display at Angelo. About her intaglio prints and ink-and-gesso paintings, Snyder writes, "These works evoke the space between tenderness and cruelty, beautiful and grotesque, lightness and weight."
As she explores these contrasts, Snyder shifts techniques and varies the sizes of her compositions, alternating between color and grayscale images. Most of her abstract compositions revolve around wrapping and unwrapping and offer viewers seductive yet disturbing glimpses of what lurks inside cocoon-like shapes.
Snyder's technical approach mirrors her interest in probing divergent responses. Her multi-method prints frequently mix the hard precision of etching with the soft edges of drypoint. In addition, Snyder creates momentum with the way she moves the ink across the page, incorporating diagonal impetus and varying the dynamics of her lines.
One of her strongest pieces, the large "Lightness and Weight," reveals Snyder's skill at composing with negative space. Here, she uses the paper's whiteness to create the impression of a ball of light wound round by black threads that unravel and fall away to let the light puddle out across a watery dark background. Although Snyder has carefully thought out every aspect (lightening her lines to make it seem as if we are looking through the sphere), the roughness of her strokes gives the work a delicious, insistent energy.
The most interesting of her color-tinged ink-and-gesso pieces is the small "Hiding." Against a fluid golden background, ethereal white-ish ribbons encircle two cylindrical shapes with orange running through their cores. Although abstract, the work calls to mind anatomical drawings of tendons, bones, and ligaments.
Two pieces in the show depart from Snyder's fascinating abstract studies. The drypoint print "Untitled (Man Clapping)," albeit competently executed, seems out of place with its literal rendering of a centered figure. More engaging is "Untitled (Birds)" in which two realistic dead hatchlings occupy the lower right corner of the page, lying on a bed of scattered twigs that resemble cracks in shattered glass.
Snyder is at her best, however, when she creates sensation merely through suggestion.
Laura J. Snyder's exhibition, "Lightness and Weight," is on view at Angelo through August 30. 220 E. Main St. on the Downtown Mall. 971-9256.