Students Respond: “No Skeleton for Evsa”

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Joan Snyder
No Skeleton for Evsa, 1971
Oil, acrylic and spray enamel on canvas, 78 x 108
Gift of Elizabeth Gibbons Rauh in memory of Nancy Duke Lewis

I really enjoy looking at this piece for a variety of reasons, but I think what draws me to it most is despite its abstraction and physical flatness, I get a strong sense of time, dimension, and emotion (through the motion and power used in the strokes, the color, and variety of media used). Joan Snyder explicitly uses the grid in a lot of her pieces and I feel an implicit usage of that grid in this piece too—in the verticality of the drips but also those short sets of horizontal lines in the background. I personally see it as a grid because those two elements in a way set the piece, hold the piece, and give it dimension—those lines, for me, act as a background onto which the rest of the piece is held.

Both the colors and stroke reveal emotion and motion, and emotion through motion. Just looking at the colors, her palette choice makes this piece a saga. There’s happiness in the vibrant purples and greens, triumph in the golds, pain and anguish in the reds and browns and the stains that drip down, there’s sorrow in the cool blue tones and the blurriness that encases it, and a feeling of redemption and resolution in the stark white. And she places the strokes in a way where it’s not a saga with a timeline, all these emotions and feelings hit at once at first view. Finally, looking at the strokes, her placement and physical force used in painting them give a sense of conversation and reaction. There are some strokes that encompass another set and there are some strokes that look like they’re “attacking” a rival group of strokes. The residual drips that stem from the strokes and their differences, whether it flows down heavily or drizzles below the stroke, tells how Snyder painted that stroke—the speed of the stroke, the paint on the brush, and the emotion and the thought in which she painted it. All of Snyder’s elements create a painting that is a dynamic, evocative, narrative blistering with emotion and only through strokes a collection of relatively short length. 

-Annie Jacob ’21

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