Review: Judith Snow at the ROM.

February 22, 2012 § Leave a comment

Judith Snow

The Royal Ontario Museum’s current exhibition, Who’s Drawing the Lines: The Journey of Judith Snow, is a small, yet necessary, tribute to an exceptional visual artist, author and leader on issues of inclusiveness. The show honours Oshawa born artist Judith Snow, who was diagnosed with paraplegia at the age of seven months. It caused the complete paralysis of the lower half of her body.

In the 1970s, Snow lost the ability to use her hands as well and began to engage with the notion of facilitated creation through art therapy sessions. A lot has changed since the beginnings of art facilitation though. At that point in time it was not considered a true art form since it was ultimately done by a third party under the artist’s visual or oral guidance. Judith’s paintings reflect her championing of this innovative approach to art-making in which she uses a head-controlled laser to indicate her creative selections. She works closely with a human “tracker,” who follows her spoken directions so that her emotions and intentions are faithfully expressed. Snow has since instituted “trackers” into the Laser Eagles, an art guild for children with various degrees of mobility that she began in 2004.

Judith Snow

Snow’s portrait of her mother, “Rita” (2007) stands out in that it is the artist’s only known oil panting on canvas. Additionally, “Rita” expresses the sense of closeness that Snow was able to forge with her mute mother through the process of tracking. The piece’s expressive and textural brushwork also stands in stark contrast to her series of more realistic landscapes. “Winter Morning” (2011), one of Snow’s more veristic artworks, was painted from the confines of her bedroom during a period of illness. However, this particular piece still expresses Snow’s unique view of the world around her and, in this sense, echoes the tension between constrictions and creative liberty that is consistent to Snow’s entire body of work.

Who’s Drawing the Lines: The Journey of Judith Snow is a remarkable account of a little-known but inspiring means of artistic production.

Who’s Drawing the Lines: The Journey of Judith Snow runs until March 4.

– Stella Melchiori

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