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Silver Gelatin Photo


Each bronze star of M.L. Snowden’s Starscape Unit projects a sense of energy that becomes uniquely revealed in the sun sculpture, Atria. Belying its objective height of just 28 inches, Atria’s composition seems larger than life as it transfigures a nucleus of power into the splendor of a star-burst. The introspective heart of Atria projects a sense of celebration that is counterbalanced through an other-worldly serenity that appears to radiate from the sculpture’s central activity. Indeed, the figural element condenses and focuses energy, moving beyond the static quality generally attributed to sculpture, pivoting upon weightless movement and a sense of liquid life within Snowden’s masterfully drawn anatomical definition. Incorporating historic echelons of technique Snowden inherited from Rodin, Atria is a millennial bronze that has come to express the sculptor’s central theme in which bronze metal, geology, humanity and the cosmos exist in a continuum of physical unity. Much of the sense of fulfillment that arises in M.L. Snowden art is undoubtably drawn from the sculptor’s significant historic place as the closest and last living inheritor of the great Paris sculpture studios of Mercié and Rodin: an inheritance that has been brought into Snowden’s 21st century vision where science and the cosmos meet within the fine art of Atria’s bronze.


Conceived as an exploration into three dynamic “panels” of starlight, Atria joins Altair and Antares in completing the “Brilliance Trilogy”; an evocation of radiant forms of nucleic action that power brilliant K, A and M-type stars. Indeed, each bronze star is a portrait of the otherwise invisible heart of a star’s energy pattern. Through differing placements of the three sculptures, new perspectives are brought forward that reveal Atria as a particularly luminous silver and roseate star whose strong rays place its Kelvin temperature on a par with that of the Sun. The explosive corona of the sculptural composition mirrors solar flares that continually rise from Atria’s actual surface. Located within Earth’s Southern Hemisphere of sky, Atria shines at a plus-one point nine-magnitude that makes it the 32nd brightest star in the visible heavens. It is the most luminous star in the Constellation of the Southern Triangle and its name is a contraction of its Bayer designation known as Alpha Trianguli Australis.


While science defines the attributes of Atria as a luminous body located about 400 light years from our Solar System, “ the star” as a point of artistic contemplation remains shrouded in mystery as its visible light falling upon our retina today is a kind of living history that was generated almost half a millennium ago. For the sculptor, the sources of inspiration that go into shaping gold, silver, tin, copper, lead, iron, titanium and the trove of other ores that compose Snowden’s bronze amalgam as well as our own physical human bodies, have been a part of earth for eons and the direction of development for these elements may well be influenced by the etheric communications of starlight together with emanations that have arrived on our planet from the deeper, larger cosmos. The adage, “You are a child of the universe” appears wonderfully expressed in Atria’s dramatic yet delicate features. Indeed, from certain perspectives of cutting-edge science, our universe can be seen as a storehouse of information contained in bronze, smoke and light as much as in the library of our own human genome whose communicative powers still await discovery and definition. In Snowden’s own private experience, sculpture is that medium that re-connects healing and larger vision as bronze surfaces become visually and physically touched. Indeed, sculpture for Snowden is the means to more fully access and contemplate profound phenomena that may have been otherwise hidden. While Atria’s design is a star, its shape also reflects the energetic mitochondria of a cell as well as the flash of a synapse upon an artistic insight that marks the work as a variable yet eternal form. As Dr. James A. Hagel remarks, “Atria circles with universal meaning and cognates, not only for our time but as our cultural legacy to the future. These are lasting works that constantly reveal harmony and the magnificent impulse of our essential origins.” 

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