An artist and Senior Lecturer in Art History
and Director of the Visual Arts Program at Barnard College, Columbia University, Joan Snitzer has led several student groups on excursions to Germany with a DAAD Group Study Visit Grant. In her various roles as artist, critic, and arts administrator, she has extensive experience both as an organizer of exhibitions and as a practicing artist. Her current exhibition 'Chromophore' is on view at the A.I.R. Gallery in Brooklyn, NY.
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We asked Joan a few questions about her work and experience in Germany:
1. What sparked your interest in visual arts and painting?
I’ve always been an artist, since drawing with my crayons as a child. My passion for art history was initially by my love of creating art and working directly with techniques and materials; it has grown exponentially throughout my career.
2. What are you currently working on?
I am currently creating work that examines traditions in non-objective painting and explores abstraction’s function in a contemporary context. Using a method that systematically layers photographic ink, water, vinyl and oil-based paint, the work appears at once familiar and completely ethereal, offering an atmosphere to contemplate the natural and fabricated world.
3. What was the most ‘German’ experience you have had?
For over a decade, I have spent ample time every year in Germany. I’ve realized that I am more at home in many parts of Berlin than I am in quite a few New York City neighborhoods. I’m still enthralled, however, by some distinctly German experiences, such as an evening listening to the Berliner Philharmoniker or a day wandering through the Albertinum in Dresden.
4. What advice would you give to students who are thinking of choosing your field of study?
I’d advise trying to pursue studies in art history as much as possible—it will inform your practice.
5. What advice would you give to North American students who are thinking of studying abroad in Germany?
First and foremost I’d tell them to go! There is so much going on in all of the contemporary arts and the diverse institutions that are dedicated to the history of arts and culture.
6. Which pictures, plants or unusual objects are there in your office/studio?
I have many personal mementos in my office, but the thing that always makes me smile is a document from the Adrian Piper Research Archive Foundation in Berlin declaring that I, Joan Snitzer, will always mean what I say.
7. Can you cook a German meal without a recipe? If so, which one?
I know how to make a reservation at the Grill Royale, Café Einstein, and Borchardt; that’s a far preferable way to have a delicious meal than for me to attempt to cook it.
8. Do you have a favorite artist, writer, or role model? Someone who has inspired you on your journey? If so, who and why them?
Although I’ve had the privilege of working with and knowing many hugely influential artists and scholars, several come to mind who left an indelible impression on both me and my work. I worked in the studios of both Andy Warhol and Nancy Spero, and served under the chair of art history at Barnard College, Benjamin Buchloh.
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