"I feel I've been passed a torch, and that's very, very exciting"
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M.L. Snowden has spent her life surrounded by sculpture. Her earliest memories and every waking moment of her life include sculpture. From the age of four, she played in her father's sculpture studio watching him with the unwavering attention of a child enthralled and enchanted. At the age of seven she began working with clay along side her father.
"Clay is a magic material. It's a mystery. Rodin saw it for himself when he came upon clay, that this was like an epiphany. It was this transformation, this fire that occurred. Everything that you are and you intend comes through and it's still a mystery to me how what I feel evidences itself in what I have made."
As she grew, she learned Rodin's transcendental sculpting techniques from her father, George Holburn Snowden, who had in turn been a favored student of Robert George Eberhard, a protégé of the great French sculptors Auguste Rodin, Anton Mercie and Victor Peters. Each of the generations -- the French masters, Swiss-born Eberhard, and American-born George Snowden -- has contributed to the evolution of a unique heritage of sculpting that finds its contemporary expression through the spectacular works of M.L. Snowden.
Part of that heritage comes through the original sculpting tools of Auguste Rodin that have been passed from mentor to protégé for three generations. The tools, some of which she uses in sculpting her own works, are a symbol for Snowden -- a symbol of the awe-inspiring foundation upon which her work is based. They provide a physical connection with the artistic inheritance that has been passed down to her and represent the utter devotion to sculpture of the artists who are part of Rodin's legacy.
"I'm not a product of an art school. I'm not a product of having really studied with someone. I'm a product of a life immersed that has come through someone else who has lived their whole life with this, to someone else who has lived their whole life with this. And that was Rodin, that was Eberhard, and that was my father. I feel that I've been passed a torch, and that's very, very exciting."
Snowden's own devotion to sculpture has been acknowledged through the awards that have been bestowed upon her and her work. At the age of 36, she received the inaugural Alex Ettl Grant from the National Sculpture Society for "Lifetime Achievement in American Sculpture". In 1992, she was awarded the world's most prestigious sculpture prize -- the International Rodin Competition Special Grand Prize -- for her sculpture "Cataclasis". Early in her career, she was awarded post-graduate study grants to the Vatican Collections in Rome , the Uffizi in Florence , Italy and the Louvre in Paris .
Her current body of work, which began with "Tectonics" in 1989, follows a geological theme. Each piece humanizes the forces in nature which lead to the formation and evolution of our Earth. Snowden's sculptural genius evidences itself in her ability to personify these forces and allow the viewer to feel and intuitively understand phenomena that is otherwise only accessible as abstract geological science.
In the same forms, she communicates the nobler side of man's endeavors and issues a call to humanity, challenging us to recognize certain truths that are universal to all creation - whether it be organic or geologic in nature.
"The geological program is the beginning stepping stone. The heroic possibilities of man; the risks and courage of striving; the fire and passion of creative enterprises; the spiritual force of men as they struggle for the actuation of their plans and work; these horizons are bundled into the sinew of the clay."
In 1992, M.L. Snowden became the fourth artist to receive the coveted Rodin Prize for sculpture. The work, entitled Cataclasis , won kudos from artists and critics throughout the world, and was selected from a field of over 500 juried entries. The unique fortuity behind Snowden's receipt of the prize, however, rests in her compelling history and extraordinary legacy, for Cataclasis was sculpted with both Rodin's technique and his original sculpting tools, passed directly down to her through generations.
Mary Louis Snowden is the daughter and protégé of master sculptor, George H. Snowden, whose numerous accomplishments throughout his 65 year career include over 100 public placements (the pediment of the U.S. Postal Service Building and the altar of the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. being among them), sculptural design for many major Hollywood films including “Ben Hur” and “The Robe”, and the design of many of the original sculptural elements for Walt Disney's Disneyland and Epcot Center theme parks.
George H. Snowden came upon sculpture as a career quite by accident. In the early 1920s, a Catholic priest arrived at the doorstep of Yale University sculpture professor, Robert Eberhard, with an exquisite clay sculpture of the head of Christ in his hands. Upon seeing the sculpture, Eberhard immediately demanded that the artist be brought to Yale and interviewed for enrollment. The young sculptor, an indigent laborer in a small rural town, was George H. Snowden.
After a grueling interview process in which the elder Snowden accomplished the impossible task of producing three years' worth of meritorious work in a single summer, the Yale faculty admitted him to the university and hired him as a sculpture assistant to Professor Eberhard.
The Swiss-born Eberhard had been the protégé, friend and sculpture assistant to the great Auguste Rodin at his Villa studio at Meudon , France . Rodin bequeathed the very tools he had used in sculpting his master works to Eberhard in recognition of his contributions and artistic potential.
When Rodin passed away in 1917, Eberhard emigrated to the United States and was quickly accepted as a sculpture professor at Yale University . When George H. Snowden entered the fold, Eberhard adopted him as the recipient of the Rodin legacy, eventually passing down the Rodin tools to Snowden in a celebration of his achievements and masterful skill.
M.L. Snowden received the Rodin tools upon her father's death in 1990, an event that sent her spiraling into a deep reclusion. As the imaginative daughter of a renowned sculptor, Mary Louise had spent much of her young life in her father's studio. She learned to sculpt using Rodin's transcendent technique by watching her father's masterful hand and sculpting her own work under his guidance.
It was during her self-imposed reclusion from 1990 to 1997 that M.L. Snowden created the Rodin Prize-winning sculpture, Cataclasis . Since 1998, she has been openly sharing the Rodin legacy with the world. Her work, which is now available as select bronze limited edition sculptures, tours the country along with the Rodin
About the Artist
International art critic, Remo Nevi describes M.L. Snowden as a “Great figurative contemporary master whose profound and powerfully realized portfolio places the artist among the world's most respected representational sculptors at work today.” In 1992 Snowden won the world's most prestigious sculpture prize, The International Rodin Competition in Tokyo, Japan, hosted in cooperation with the Embassies of Belgium, Finland, France, Israel, Korea, Mexico, Netherlands, The United States and thirty other countries.
M.L. Snowden is the sole living inheritor of select 19th century marble carving, finishing, casting and bronze patination techniques from the Paris studios of Auguste Rodin and Antonin Mercié. M..L. Snowden sculpted alongside her father for seventeen years as an apprentice and as a professional in Snowden Studios. In 1990, M.L. Snowden inherited a collection of 38 of the original sculpting tools from the Rodin Studios. Rodin's tools were bequeathed to M.L. Snowden's Father by the Swiss sculptor, Robert Georges Eberhard, who was Chairman of the Yale School of Sculpture for almost fifty years and was a professional in Rodin's studios in the latter part of the 19th century. Eberhard was a mentor to the sculptor's father, George H. Snowden, N.A. ( 1901-1990). Who Was Who In American Art. G.H. Snowden was a sculpture educator at Yale University for many years and his extensive list of commissioned sculptures now constitute national historic landmarks. The Smithsonian Institution held a retrospective of Snowden sculpture, SCULPTURE IN THE FEDERAL TRIANGLE.
Over the last decade, M.L. Snowden has pursued sculpture as an expression of titanic geological phenomena and the impact of mankind on his environment. In 1998 M.L. Snowden was awarded the massive multi million dollar Carano Gordon Atlanta Commission to create the sculptor's vision for the largest cohesive body of bronze extant in the latter half of the 20th century. The commission to date comprises 100 works ranging to four tons apiece with an edition to 800 works of completed sculpture. In this collection, notable explorations into extrusion, inclusion, advanced gravity pour techniques, innovative chasing protocols, recombinant jeweler and bronze techniques, Snowden's restructuring of proprietary historic wax and patina formulations and other ground breaking techniques for the art of bronze have been advanced. In Snowden's GEOLOGICAL COLLECTION, the fine art of bronze is shaped, redefined and celebrated. An ongoing 16 City national tour of M.L.SNOWDEN: THE LEGACY OF RODIN has been made possible by Advanstar International Art Group, Masterpiece Publishing Inc. and other sponsors.
In the year 2000, Snowden was commissioned to create the GREAT ANGELS OF THE MAIN ALTAR for the new $200 million Los Angeles Cathedral from a field of 8,000 international portfolios. In addition, Snowden is the sculptor of the ANGEL FRIEZE for the Cathedral's Visitor's Center, the first representation of a group of Angels for a permanent public setting in the history of the City of Los Angeles . In 1989, Snowden was named the inaugural winner of the Alex Ettl Grant for”Lifetime Achievement in American Sculpture” presented by the National Sculpture Society in New York City . The sculptor created the developmental model for the World War II Memorial for the National Mall in Washington D.C. , a project which is presently ongoing. In addition to creating the 14 foot high Glendale Police Memorial for the new $56 million civic plaza in the City of Glendale, Snowden's lifetime works have been collected by a worldwide investment syndicate to advance the formation of a museum solely dedicated to the perpetual exhibition of Snowden's ouevre and heritage. Most recently, M.L. Snowden was awarded the inaugural Presidential Order of Merit “In Recognition of Significant Contributions to the Betterment of Humanity Through Art,” presented by the Fine Art Foundation with the sculptor's work recently added to the Presidential art collection at the White House. The sculptor maintains studios in Long Beach , Paris and Austria .
Harvard University 's Michael Miller, National Marketing Director emeritus of Butterfields/ Ebay writes, “These are historic works that uncannily unite expressionism's great inner explosions and outward cataclysms with Europe 's golden age. M.L. Snowden's art is a glorious fusion - the summary of our age superceded by the vitality of a moment.” tools.
M.L. SNOWDEN Master Sculptor
“As the heir to the proprietary sculptural formulas of Auguste Rodin and Antonin Mercié, Snowden's masterful modeling, profound vision, and ground breaking bronze techniques, have established her reputation at the forefront
Dr. Marie Busco, PhD., Curator and Author, “Rodin and His Contemporaries: The Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Collection”
1952. M.L. Snowden is born on the Ides of March to movie star Louise Illington and sculptor George Holburn Snowden .
1957. M.L. Snowden is brought into her father's studios , where he works on the sculptural programs of the immense Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington, D.C. , which include heroic-sized limestone carvings for the exterior as well as the marble Main Altar and baldachin .
1974. M.L. Snowden is a Magna C um Laud e Honors graduate of Loyola Marymount University .
1974 - 76. M.L. Snowden is acknowledged with an award by the TRY Foundation , as well as receiving Redken post graduate grants for European study at the Conservatoire dall'Abaco in Verona , Italy , with subsequent study conducted at the Louvre in Paris , France ; The Uffizi in Florence , and the Vatican Collections in Rome , Italy .
1978. M.L. Snowden conceives of and names the Cornaro Scholarship for Graduate Studies, a national award honor .
1989. M.L. Snowden is awarded the inaugural Alex Ettl Prize for Lifetime Achievement in American Sculpture, an award given to the collected works of a sculptor's career through the oldest professional organization of sculptors in America , The National Sculpture Society .
1990. Upon the death of her father, M.L. Snowden inherits 38 working tools of Auguste Rodin
1992. Snowden is named W orld W inner of the International Rodin Competition with the Hakone Open-Air Museum Special Prize for the sculpture Cataclasis ( selected from a field of professional entries from 38 countries ) . Cataclasis is purchased for the permanent collection of the Hakone Open-Air Museum in Japan .
1998. On the death of her mother, Snowden continues sculpture with the signing of the Carano Gordon Atlanta Commission Contract to build the largest body of Fournier bronze in the latter half of the 20th century.
2000. Snowden is named sculptor of the Main Altar of the new $200 million Los Angeles Cathedral , as well as creator of the first a ngels for a permanent public setting in the history of Los Angeles , “The Los Angeles Angel Frieze , ” installed in the Cathedral's Visitors Center.
2001. Respecting sculpture still pending, Snowden builds the scale model for the conceptual heart of the World War II Memorial in Washington D.C. slated to stand between the Lincoln and Washington Memorials .
2003. Snowden enters into a second phase contract of the massive Carano Gordon Atlanta Commission to build her vision for bronze for the 21st century .
2004. Snowden creates the monumental public installation, the 14 foot high bronze “Shield Protectite” for the Glendale Police Civic Plaza of the City of Glendale, California .
2006. Snowden's sculpture, Cataclasis , is added to the Presidential Art Collection at the White House .
Ongoing: The National Museum of Women in The Arts, Washington D.C. ; Brookgreen Museum Sculpture Gardens, the foremost sculpture garden in America , and The National Sculpture Society maintain historic archives for the life and career of M.L. Snowden
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