M.L. SNOWDEN SCULPTURE
THE TERRESTRIAL FORUM
Tectonics was conceived and cast in 1983 as a single personal work and has been built more than two decades later as a bronze edition limited to just fifty creations foundered by the artist. It remains at the millennium, a seminal and pivotal sculpture for the art and intellectual focus of M.L. Snowden. Within the planes of this quarter scale work, the central meditation for the Geological Coreium has become crystallized. Here in this study-sized but weighty bronze, the sculptor’s direct approach to the natural earthly sculptural mediums of clay and bronze connect to octaves of larger expressions of titanic geological phenomena. Humanitarian elements rising from abstractions within the work seem to effortlessly take shape from the warping of compressed sculptural sequences taking wing under the sculptor’s hands.
In this jewel-like sculpture, it is possible to divine keys to Snowden’s signature sculptural style; a style marked with a sense of flowing elan and a remarkable structural ease that has come to be written through the sculptor’s unexcelled compressive handwork upon mined earth materials. Tectonics is seen to be that landmark work that has allowed Snowden to jettison beyond her direct inheritance of a great figurative tradition as it becomes clear that her sculpture takes shape along the lines of a natural imperative housed within materials that assert their own direction and primacy. Exuding a sense of mystery that only seems to increase with repeated contact with Tectonics, this early sculpture of nearly two decades ago houses Snowden’s sculptural message that has become fused to its medium.
International art critic Remo Nevi wrote in 1993 that “M.L. Snowden could have concentrated all her energy on the moment of transformation. She could have visualized the legions of men behind the races of the world and how these individual faces could stand as single expressions for millions. Certainly, she understood how each one of these four figures not only heralded the multitude as it stands today, but how each goes back into the formative foundations of past lives expressed as the rock out of which men arise. Here in Tectonics, we can surely meet the land on the bottom plane of the work; the rising plate tectonics of landmass continents that support the nations of the world in the upper portion of the work and, in the flames of the top register, it is possible to divine that the swirling oceans of the world are revealed along a spiral storm-eye. However, within Tectonics, it is clear that the sculptor has attained something more. Here in this work, Snowden has created a path into the very nature of her materials that puts flesh to the living quality of rock itself and the secret of a cosmos that breathes cycles of becoming. At its heart, the work radiates a deep peace as well as vestiges of a singing muted harmony that combine to create a window onto the soul of bronze.”
Tectonics as a sculptural meditation, was the first sculpture to express M.L. Snowden’s central idea that the very substance of humankind, stars, planetary masses and bronze are created of the same interrelated yet differently arranged elements. Within the sculpture, famous antecedent compositions alluding to the four corners of the earth are expanded beyond their traditional limitations. For here in Tectonics, Carpeaux’s Paris Opera’s Continents, as well as Daniel Chester French’s Four Continents are left behind as millennial substance is gathered in Tectonics in the wake of science and a far deeper vision plumbing the nature of physical materiality extending from the sculptor’s art. Here, in Tectonics is the stepping stone to fractal formations; to numeric harmonies, to the condensing of a wider artistic logos that reaches out into the world. And, here as well, the assertion of figuration graduates from an intellectual theme, a choice as a formally built agenda, to become in Tectonics, a part of natural geological phenomenon rising from the manual hand-compression of the sculptor further extrapolated in the heated crucibles of the foundry. In this seminal work, Snowden is not seen as a maker but rather as an “engager,” enabling a series of catalytic actions and reactions to take place from which energy summaries in the form of figuration inevitably rise.
Snowden’s formation of Tectonics generated her well known quote: “ The geological program is a 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.”