Write Around PAM: Amanda Snyder

Self-Portrait, Amanda Snyder, 23 inches x 13 ½ inches, oil on masonite. A vertical, rectangular self-portrait painted using mostly muted tones. The paint is built up in layers and often applied with a dry brush giving a rough look to the brushstrokes and letting the colors of underlayers come through. Amanda is depicted from the waist up, head turned a little towards the right, with lips slightly parted, and her hand cupped to the left side of her face shielding the light from her eyes. Most of the face is in the shadow created by the hand except for the nose which catches some light, and there is light reflected off the lenses of the glasses. The artist is wearing a tan and green, brimmed hat, wire-rim glasses, and a blue, collared shirt with sketchy highlights of tan, green, and orange coming through the brushstrokes and patched here and there. The background is composed much like the rest of the painting in loose, dry, rough brushstrokes of the same muted colors making the background and the central figure appear to merge with each other.

This has been an especially challenging year, for so many reasons. As we move toward its end, we are reminded of the importance of threshold times—spaces between what has been and what will be—and the power that can come from resting and reflecting in them. Self-portraits seem to carry this same energy, reflecting back to us who we have been, who we are now, who we might be in the future. We invite you to spend some time reflecting and writing on how this year has shaped you, using this self-portrait by Amanda Snyder as inspiration. Before or after you write, learn more about Snyder’s life and work through the exhibition catalogue Amanda Snyder: Portland Modernist by Portland Art Museum’s former curator of Northwest Art, Bonnie Laing-Malcolmson. 

Complete each phrase to create an ‘I am’ poem. Set a timer for 8 minutes, keep your pen moving, and just write whatever comes. 

I am 

I wonder 

I hear 

I see 

I want 

I am 

I pretend 

I feel 

I touch 

I worry 

I understand 

I say 

I dream 

I try  

I hope 

I am

Writing in community is powerful. We are grateful to our longtime partner Write Around Portland for the writing prompts and inspiration. You can revisit past Sunday posts and look for continuing weekly posts through the fall. Please share your work with us! @writearoundpdx @portlandartmuseum #RespectWritingCommunity #WriteAroundPAM 

Amanda Snyder, Self-Portrait, 1948, oil on Masonite, Gift of Eugene E. Snyder, no known copyright restrictions, 80.113.3

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