The Light Inside: Wendy Snyder Macneil, Photographs and Films
January 20 – April 10, 2016
Main Gallery, The Image Centre (formerly Ryerson Image Centre)
Guest Curator: Don Snyder
This exhibition presents the photographic work and selected films and videos of Wendy Snyder MacNeil (American, b. 1943), whose archive is preserved in The Image Centre (formerly Ryerson Image Centre). Drawn from the archive’s extensive holdings and selected in collaboration with the artist, The Light Inside brings renewed attention to MacNeil’s art and influence, and celebrates the Canadian premiere of her most recent film.
MacNeil studied painting and drawing with American artist Elizabeth Saltonstall, and first encountered photography in the Visual Studies Program at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education; during this time she also enrolled at MIT to study with noted photographer Minor White. Her first book, Haymarket, was published in 1970, and during the next two decades she explored both documentary and narrative approaches to photographic portraiture, continually pushing the boundaries of the medium and its expressive potential. This experimentalism culminated in her austere and compelling hand-made portraits using platinum-palladium materials on vellum. Turning her attention from photography to film and video toward the end of the 1980s, MacNeil has continued to experiment with image and narrative, working with documentary, dramatic and symbolic approaches as well as with video installation.
An influential educator throughout her career, MacNeil taught at Abbott Academy and Wellesley College in Massachusetts, and later at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), from 1996 to 2007. A number of her students went on to become prominent photographers, including Natalia Almeda, Wendy Ewald, Sally Gall, Justin Kimball, George Lange, Jon Miller and Francesca Woodman.
MacNeil’s photographs have earned fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, and are included in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum and the Museum of Modern Art in New York, among other institutions. Her films have been recognized with awards from the American Film Institute and the New England Film and Video Foundation, and have been screened in the United States, as well as in Canada, Australia and throughout Europe.
An accompanying catalogue presents MacNeil’s work in the context of essays by Don Snyder, the artist’s brother and long-time collaborator, as well as art historian Eugenia Parry, photographer George Lange and filmmaker Steve Marx.
Wednesday, January 20
6:00 – 8:00 PM
When The Ice Goes Out (2016) by Jeremy Leach and Wendy Snyder MacNeil
Thursday, January 21
Wednesday, February 3
Wednesday, March 23
Don Snyder has an extensive background in photographic history, critical studies, and curation. A professor at Toronto Metropolitan University (formerly Ryerson University) School of Image Arts since 1980, he has taught in the York-Toronto Metropolitan University (formerly Ryerson University) Communication and Culture program, and in Toronto Metropolitan University's graduate programs in Photographic Preservation and Collections Management and Documentary Media, and served as Chair of the School from 2005-2010. Before joining the Toronto Metropolitan University (formerly Ryerson University) faculty, he was Curator of Photography at the Addison Gallery of American Art from 1970 to 1977, where he originated the museum's photography exhibition program and curated exhibitions on the work of Eugene Richards, Bruce Davidson, Jerry Uelsmann, among others.
Wendy Snyder MacNeil: The Light Inside
Editor: Shannon Anderson
Contributors: George Lange, Steve Marx, Eugenia Parry, Paul Roth, and Don Snyder
This publication and accompanying exhibition brings renewed attention to the art and influence of pioneering American photographer and educator Wendy Snyder MacNeil (b. 1943), whose archive is preserved at the The Image Centre (formerly Ryerson Image Centre). MacNeil's austere, compelling images contributed significantly to the North American photography scene during the 1970s and 1980s. Restlessly experimental, she strove to portray complex identity and forge a more direct engagement between subject and viewer by pushing the formal boundaries of portraiture.