Part of an ongoing series of profiles of Guilford Art Center faculty, students, volunteers and friends, recognizing and celebrating their accomplishments and contributions to the Center and its mission of encouraging and supporting excellence in the arts.
The gallery at Guilford Art Center features Travel Photography: Documenting the Other: China, India, and Myanmar, a solo exhibition of work by LARRY K. SNIDER, May 19 through June 19. Snider is a Chicago-based attorney and photographer who has traveled extensively and documented the people and cultures he has encountered.
Snider discovered the Far East and Asia as an undergraduate, in the late 1950s. "The 'foreign-ness' and the thoughtfulness of the culture totally captivated me," he says. Since 1988 he has traveled annually to one or more Asian countries, "and I hope to continue as long as I can."
Snider's techniques are in the mode of documentary photography (among his admired predecessors are August Sander and Irving Penn). His portraits are not studio shots, but images captured in the different places his subjects live and go about their business: villages, homes, workplaces, shops, temples. There are engaging images of parents and children, couples, laborers, monks, in everyday dress as well as ceremonial garb. He is drawn to fairly remote areas, attempting to capture indigenous cultures relatively untouched by modernity, and which are in danger of soon disappearing. Often the settings are as revealing-and as much a part of a portrait-as the people themselves.
"For me, what I photograph is instinctive," Snider explains. "I am always just looking, although the vast majority of photographs have been portraits. People are certainly the most fascinating."
Snider tries to "break the ice" with his subject, despite a language barrier, with body language and a smile, and he will frequently show them some photos he took on another trip. He also frequently creates an interesting sort of "contract" with his subjects, using a camera that enables him to take a Polaroid photo and give it to them while taking the photo for himself, thus "giving them something in return for what I am 'taking,'" the artist says.
Snider's photographs have been exhibited widely, and are included in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Detroit Institute of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art.
At the exhibition's opening reception, Snider will be interviewed by Corey Postigilone, an artist, writer and professor at Columbia College, Chicago. Postiglione has written a text to accompany the exhibition, placing Snider's work within the context of travel photography and the experience of photographing "the other."