Amy Brook Snider, in Memoriam
July 26, 1940— December 17th, 2018
Amy Snider was a passionate advocate of art education and made great contributions to the field. She was an avid supporter and contributor as a UCAE board member. She will be missed. Our hearts go out to her family.
Amy Brook Snider (7/26/1940 – 12/17/2018) was an artist whose medium was education. A life-long New Yorker, born in Queens, NY, to Silas and Clara Snider (née Fox), Amy Snider was the elder of the couple’s two daughters.
At the High School for Music and Art, Sylvia Milgram was Snider’s “first great art teacher”—someone who demonstrated that the arts and education were two sides of the same creative coin. Inspired by the many visual artists in her life, including her beloved sister, Jenny Snider, and by her training as a painter, Amy Snider approached the field of art and design education from an artist’s viewpoint. She earned a BFA in Painting from Queens College, and an MFA in Painting from the University of Madison, Wisconsin. Dr. Snider was awarded her PhD in Education from NYU in 1995.
Her intense curiosity about the world was evident in her undergraduate studies, when, in addition to her major in painting, she did coursework in Comparative Literature and Anthropology, two subjects that remained among her lifelong interests. This intellectual expansiveness also characterized her innovative work as a teacher of art and design education. Working as an educator for over fifty years, Snider’s emphasis was on a spirit of collaboration and an interdisciplinary approach that included literature, anthropology, science, psychology, and other areas of inquiry, and she always privileged qualitative assessments of education over quantitative.
Dr. Snider understood the importance of providing a stimulating environment for the creation of artwork, and in one of many memorable instances of doing so, invited a sixth-grade public school class she was working with to turn their classroom into a loom where they could create both collective and individual weavings. In another, Snider created a cave-like entrance to a classroom, inside of which children painted bison and made hand prints. The performance artist Theodora Skipitares, entered the “cave” dressed like a shaman, bedecked in bones, while Snider read an excerpt from James Frazer’s The Golden Bough about a prehistoric ritual performed by a shaman. In a gallery, these would have been impressive installation and performance works; in the context of a classroom, as Snider understood too well, where this work was never on the auction block, it failed to attain the status of “fine” art in the eyes of many. Nonetheless, the value of Snider’s work was indisputable and incalculable, creating for her students an indelibly memorable, meaningful encounter with art and artmaking.
In the mid-70s, budget cuts to the arts in NYC’s public schools ended Snider’s work there. She joined the faculty at the Pratt Institute, where she taught from 1979 to 2012 and was the founder of the Art & Design Education Department. She was that Department’s Chair for over 30 years, and remained Professor Emerita until her death.
Her strategies as an art educator at Pratt continued to run parallel to or even to anticipate tendencies in art making: the questioning of intellectual (and curricular) boundaries between previously distinct fields of study; the creation of and appreciation for ephemeral work (for example, her research and documentation of snowmen); an interest in untaught, “outsider” artists; research-based projects; collections and archives (among others, she had a collection of clipped obituaries); the power of personal narrative and the exploration of self as a generator of ideas; and a firm conviction that the development of social consciousness must be an integral part of teaching and making art. Her work, understandably, had a feminist foundation, and Dr. Snider cited the strategies of her women’s consciousness-raising groups of the 70s as influential in the way she structured certain of her projects, such as The Journal Project. She initiated that project at the Pratt Institute to facilitate dialogue between teachers and students about issues of instruction and learning that increased faculty awareness of effective teaching and improved the educational experience for students.
Snider was deeply committed to and was a fierce fighter for the things she believed in. Throughout her life, in her teaching, conference presentations, consulting work, programs, exhibitions, and publications, she strove to lead others to understand the importance of art and design education, to act on our collective obligation to foster social justice, and to honor feminism’s urgent commissions. Just prior to her death, she was involved in protests against fracking—a progressive leftist to the end.
Her students remember her as unfailingly attentive, with not only an open-door policy, but an open-door practice. Snider effectively adopted her students, and with her power of discernment and ability to listen and observe helped them to succeed both in the classroom and in life.
Amy Snider’s family and her many friends recall her love of good conversation and food, movies, and books; her strong opinions, individual stylishness, and wonderful sense of humor—and everyone who knew her remembers her laugh. That laugh—what a laugh!—and what a life.
Amy Brook Snider is survived by her loving daughter, Ivy Crewdson, an art advisor; her adored grandchildren, Lilianna Frances Crewdson and Walker Elias Crewdson; her sister, artist Jenny Snider, and brother-in-law Joel Mason, a graphic artist; her ex-husband, sculptor Joel Shapiro, and Mr. Shapiro’s wife, painter Ellen Phelan. Amy Snider’s dear friend and partner of many years, Phil Krug, a lawyer for Harlem Legal Services, predeceased her in 2001.
Dr. Snider’s intellectual and creative DNA lives on in her thousands of students, and in their students. Her archives are housed in the Pratt Institute Library.
Contributions in her name may be made to: The ACLU, and/or to EPIC Long Island c/o Mr. Tom Hopkins, 1500 Hempstead Turnpike, East Meadow, NY, 11554
Memoriam courtesy of Franklin Furnace Archive, Inc.
Art Education and Conservation in Madagascar
August 3 – 26
70 CTLE Hours for Professional Teachers
Course number: AEG-5231-A
DEBORAH ROSS AND ROSE VIGGIANO
Join us this summer for an unforgettable experience in Madagascar. The visual arts are not required in public schools in Madagascar, however, there is keen interest in bringing the arts into the curriculum, paralleling the recent initiatives in STEAM in the United States. This course offers a unique opportunity for art educators to collaborate with Malagasy educators to create an art and science curriculum that can instill in present and future generations the importance of preserving and caring for this delicate ecosystem. Ultimately, the creation of this curriculum will support the ongoing environmental efforts in this country.
During the program, participants will write up their observations and experiences, and document the curriculum they developed with Malagasy educators and naturalists for their portfolios. Published curricula will be made available for reference and future use by participating teachers and teachers in Madagascar.
This workshop gives 70 Professional Development hours to:
• Teachers with an Initial Certification
• Teachers with Professional Certification receive CTLE hours (Continuing Teacher and Leader Education).
For more information about this program, please contact Rose Viggiano at firstname.lastname@example.org or 212.592.2449.
Sylvia Kassner Corwin at the age of 95 passed peacefully on 25th of August 2017.
She was predeceased by her loving husband Leonard and daughter June. She leaves her son Lee. Throughout her life she persevered in trying to improve the world using art education as the main vehicle. She was instrumental in using the theory of visual thinking to teach high school students to read during her long teaching and administrative positions in the New York City school system. She contributed to the art education literature as well as being an accomplished artist herself. A celebration of her life will be held at the Village of Duxbury in the near future. Donations to any institutions mitigating climate change or ADL in her name would be appreciated.
Judith Schwartz Presents: Material Matters: Celebrating Sculpture in Craft Media
NYU Steinhardt Department of Art and Art Professions
Barney Building Galleries
Opening date: October 11, 2017
Opening reception: Oct 11, 4-5:30pm
The primal and playful act of creating objects with a foundation of fully developed mastery of materials makes it all the more possible for artists to convey meaningful concepts, thoughts, and feelings. Such sustained ability produces unexpected discoveries. Knowledge based on accumulated experience invites playful improvisation and confidence so aesthetic choices become easily internalized and rendered with significant impact.
The artists represented in this show share a common core of a particular training—an education in art that coalesces traditional skill building, historical perspective, postmodernist theory and the diverse new wave of a hybrid practice that makes up the contemporary art world.
Artists include: Steve Montgomery, Linda Casbon, Shida Kuo, Matt Nolen, Claudia Alvarez, Kathy Butterly, Judith Schwartz, Klaus Burgel, Carolanne Patterson, Debra Rapoport, Caitlyn McLaughlin, Edison Zapata and Jane Bruce.