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The University Experience

Snowden was one of the first women to be admitted to the all-male campus of Loyola University before it merged into Loyola Marymount in Los Angeles, California. She was also the first woman in her family’s history to attend college.


In the 1970’s at Loyola, Snowden was eager to expand University resources. Noting the absence of a sculpture program in the curriculum, she rapidly established the first bronze foundry on campus where she produced a succession of bronzes, performing all stages of casting and chasing. As an already accomplished sculptor, Snowden not only pursued human anatomy, chemistry and a range of sciences relating to metallurgy, but continued oil painting studies under Stanton Mac-Donald-Wright’s pupil, professor Pauline Khuri Majoli. [1]


At the University, Snowden was closely mentored by Sister Raymunde McKay, President of Mayrmount College who was the principal architect of the merger of Loyola Marymount University. The sculptor was considered an iconic symbol by McKay who saw Snowden as brilliant artist who was yet a student at the forefront of a social, spiritual, and political experiment in women’s equality. Sister McKay endorsed Snowden’s creative design of her own curriculum that supported the classic education of a sculptor. In 1974 with a sterling academic record, Snowden was the first woman to be inducted into the Jesuit national scholastic honor society, Alpha Sigma Nu.



[1] Russell Paquette “M.L. Snowden: Anything but One Dimensional” Summer Issue,  Vistas Magazine, Loyola Marymount University, 1993 In this centerfold article, M.L. Snowden is characterized as symbol of the merger.


Sr. Raymunde McKay (right) announces begiinning status of the merger of  Loyola Marymount University

California’s Aerospace Industry and the Impact of NASA

For Snowden, the craft and art of sculpture evinces scientific disciplines ranging from mathematics to chemistry; engineering to metallurgy. Indeed, it would seem Einstein’s insight is made manifest in Snowden’s art, wherein “After a certain high level of technical skill is achieved, science and art tend to coalesce in esthetics, plasticity and form.”[1]


Snowden’s foray into the sciences gained momentum as the sculptor began to develop sophisticated metallurgical techniques in the early 1970’s in her student built foundry. As early as a freshman at the University, the artist became engaged in meaningful discussions with the Southern California scientific community. Indeed, through Loyola University and other contacts, Snowden made lifelong friends with senior scientists, engineers and physicists who were employed in the region’s aerospace industry. In particular, a 40 year friendship ensued with the physicist and engineer R. V. Beckwith, an aerospace veteran with a 50-year career in rocketry and spacecraft. Associations with experts connected to the Moon landing and the aviation industry gave Snowden a forum in which to air her early developing scientific insights and ideas.


A decades long friendship relating to the physicist who had worked with Oppenheimer on the Manhattan Project led to Snowden’s cutting edge insights on string theory and other advanced mathematics that over time, impacted her bronze structures. Certainly Mandelbrot’s fractal perspectives and Dr. Stephen Wolfram’s mathematical ideas which were unveiled in his extensive tome, “A New Kind of Science” have provided relevant discourse and form to Snowden’s questing art.  There is no question that the quantum findings put forward by Dr. William A. Tiller of Stanford, have exerted their influence in more closely defining for Snowden certain phenomena she has experienced in carrying out her master craft. Indeed, such associations and interests were initially promoted through NASA’s space scientist Dr. Michael Ornstein, M.L. Snowden’s first professor of Astro-physics at Loyola University.[2]  




[2] Staff Ed. Westchester Journal, Dr. Michael Ornstein and Mary Louise Snowden  point to the Apollo 17 site,, the 6th  Moon Landing, 1972.

Post Graduate Grants to Europe

In 1974 graduating with highest honors with a degree in three majors, including Fine Art, Snowden won a series of distinguished post graduate grants for both her sculpture and painting. The awards took Snowden to European centers of study where she became immersed in the roots of her artistic heritage.  Snowden combined distinguished Redken and TRY Foundation Grants along with other important scholarships that afforded her significant time at the Vatican Collections in Rome. 

The European Experience

Additional post graduate grants allowed the sculptor to move to Verona Italy to the Conservatoire dall’Abaco. Snowden resided at the Conservatoire and used the address as her central base for wide ranging explorations. From Verona she traveled to study the Venetian masters at the Accademia in Venice and then traveled south to Florence where she spent considerable time at the Uffizi and Pitti Palace museums. 


Snowden moved to Vienna and then traveled to southern Austria, where she discovered an ideal studio space on the Worthersee Lake in Carenthia; a location that Snowden still works in today. Over a three year period, Snowden produced significant artistic experiments both in painting and sculpture as a result of her travel and study itinerary. In time, she moved to Paris, where she became steeped in a direct study of Rodin and the Egyptian artifacts that he had admired in the collections of the Louvre. To this day, Snowden maintains a studio in Paris.[1]



[1] Ibid. Hagel, Angels of the Main Altar; Conversation with a Modern Master: M.L. Snowden. Loyola Marymount Distinguished Lecture Series Film.2006

M.L. Snowden in 1974          Photo: Burr Miller

M.L. Snowden in 1976    Photo: Herm Hartzel

Malvina Hoffman: The Influence of Rodin’s Drawings 

Returning from Paris, Snowden embarked on expanding her drawing métier. Snowden’s particular interest in drawing stemmed from the time her father had introduced his daughter in the early 1960’s to his friend and sculptural colleague, Malvina Hoffman. Snowden’s association with the aging Hoffman deeply sparked M.L.’s interest to later pursue drawing as a serious part of her sculptural oeuvre. Indeed, Hoffman, had studied with Rodin as a young woman and her private recollections of the master were particularly warm and engaging.  Snowden recollects that some well-meaning close family friends didn’t approve of Malvina. According to Snowden, “They thought she was overly independent and were worried my pursuit of sculpture was inappropriate. But I was unafraid. I felt that each person is an individual and should be free to work out their destiny without labels.” Hoffman inspired Snowden with reminiscences of the time when she had worked with Leonce Benedité, the first curator of the Musée Rodin, in helping him catalogue Rodin’s drawings. [1]  At a point in Snowden’s association with Hoffman, the sculptors concurred that Rodin’s drawings were built on a sense of linear pattern that embodied Rodin’s admiration for Egyptian art. M.L. Snowden was deeply moved when Hoffman passed away in 1966.



[1] Further information on Rodin’s pupil and M.L. Snowden, please see  Malvina Hoffman. Sculpture Inside and Out, New York, Bonanza Books, 1936

The elderly Auguste Rodin with Malvina Hoffman in Paris and a later portrait

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