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Snowden’s Black Period

In 1989, Snowden won America’s foremost sculpture prize, the Alex Ettl Grant. As the inaugural winner and the first woman to win the prize, Snowden received considerable kudos and a sizeable stipend that was presented in New York City by America’s most senior arts organization, the National Sculpture Society.[1]


Yet the jubilation of winning America’s grand sculpture prize was short lived for Snowden. Some months later in the next year. Snowden’s father died. Experiencing profound grief on the death of her father, Snowden was plunged into a state of protracted mourning. Throughout 1990 until 1998, the sculptor’s works were created in bleak settings and reflect Snowden’s sensibilities during a difficult emotional period.


To date, all of the works from the Black Period remain in unexplored vaults of the sculptor. During this particularly dark chapter in M.L. Snowden’s life, most of her family passed away. As Snowden observes, “My father was more than 50 years old when I was born, so he was of another generation. It was difficult to lose all my relatives. I felt I stood on a mountain-top of end times for key people: Eberhard knew Rodin up until his death in 1917, and my father waited for many years for me to be born.” Indeed curators and scholars have determined that M.L. Snowden is the closest living and working descendent of the Rodin atelier in America, as well as its last true exponent.”[2]



[1] Magazine reference, M.L. Snowden and the Alex Ettl grant:

[2] Ibid. Dr. Marie Busco, Clay for Bronze.

A Profound Creative Juncture

In 1992, Snowden won the greatest international honor and monetary award in sculpture, the International Rodin Competition Prize in Tokyo, Japan. The Prize, underwritten by Fujisaneki, Mitsubhishi and other corporations, hosted professional sculptors from thirty-two nations including France, Germany and Sweden.  Still in a state of mourning, Snowden’s name was recommended to the Prize by an international panel of fine art experts. While she accepted the award in America, Snowden declined to attend the ceremony in Japan that was part of the prize.

M.L. Snowden in 1992 on winning the World Rodin Competition

During the Black Period, the sculptor was particularly close to her mother, Louise Adel Snowden (1911-1998). As Snowden remarked, “My parents were beautiful, enlightened people. I loved them to such a degree that burying them almost took me with them.” In a little known chapter of Snowden’s life, she credits a dream she experienced the night her mother died as the source of her sculptural vision that returned her to active creativity on March 25, 1998.  

M.L. Snowden’s Mother, Louise

Uncovering Realms of Communication

Snowden’s sculptures of the Geological Coreium stem from a highly private gestational source. In the remaining months of 1998, her inner creativity was becoming charged with what the sculptor describes as a “new bright light of living connection that came to me on that unforgettable night of my mother’s passing. I was able to enter the studio again, putting my hands into clay, touching positive electrical connections in my materials.”


On her return to her sculpture rooms, Snowden was highly aware that Rodin’s techniques were an ultimate vocabulary, but proficiency in them was valuable to the degree of what was communicated through them. Snowden felt her voice in sculpture had become profoundly transformed.  As Snowden reflects, “I felt changed and restored in visioning all the works of the Geological Coreium during that period.” In setting about to realize her dramatic work, the sculptor began to engage in a dialogue of revelation.  Simply stated, Snowden’s method relied on touching and working her clay medium to the point where her vision of “bright connection” materialized.


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