Obscura by Angela Snieder
Now – March 18 (Reception: Mar 2, 7-10pm)
Remember the optical illusion books you had on your shelf as a kid? Remember how learning about how they worked in PSYCO 104 kind of killed the magic? Well, MFA printmaker Angela Snieder wants to reverse all that damage and help you find that feeling of youthful awe once again, through her FAB Gallery exhibit, Obscura.
The show is part of Snieder’s Masters of Fine Arts in printmaking, which she says can encompass a range of things such as etchings, engravings, digital prints, or dioramas. “One of the things that makes printmaking what it is, is the production of or the capacity to make multiples,” she explains. And even for those unfamiliar with the art form, looking through some of the traditional examples, you’ll likely find many you recognize.
In the exhibit, you can expect pieces similar to those examples, but what might be less expected, is that the title Obscura is also a pun. The exhibit incorporates themes of darkness and obscurity but also uses a technique called camera obscura, which works because of optical tricks, or optricks.
“I hope that the works will have just the right balance of being convincing in their illusion, but also reveal just enough where viewers are aware of some kind of trick,” Snieder says. Her goal is that you won’t necessarily know that some of the pieces have fabricated spaces when you see them.
Snieder’s favourite piece in the exhibit is one that she never thought would be possible. “(The piece) takes real space that’s eliminated and projects it through a lens without the use of a projector,” she says. “It’s just a trick of optics that’s really fascinating and exciting. Even if you know how it works it still feels like it has a kind of magic.”
Though the exhibit is not directly designed from personal experience, the work was influenced by Snieder’s time on the west coast. “A lot of it stems from creating imagery that accessed some of the impactful experiences without necessarily trying to recreate an experience that I’d had,” she says.
Snieder argues that the feeling she modelled her exhibit around is very hard to describe because it’s not necessarily within the bounds of language. “Maybe it’s the feeling of transcendence, and maybe that’s a bit dramatic of a word,” she says. “But it’s the feeling where you can recognize your insignificance and the scale of the world around you.”
She hopes that you feel the need to think about time in a vaster sense than the span of your own life — yes, Obscura is going to get way deeper than the book of optricks on your bookshelf.
While creating illusion, Snieder also hopes to illuminate the relationship between physical spaces and psychological spaces. By questioning the perceptions of how you see and then interact with what you see, she takes your childhood nostalgia about optical illusion and amplifies it.
If any of the above hasn’t convinced you to attend, Snieder mentions the inclusion of a small Easter egg for viewers.
“There’s a kind of a funny object that I have hidden in part of the camera obscura diorama,” she says. “I haven’t really told anyone about that but you can find if you look closely.”
It seems that even with her serious and insightful approach to Obscura, Snieder has still be able to find ways, even if they’re small, to recapture that spirit of youthful enjoyment connected to the art of optical illusion.
The opportunity to take in Obscura, and grasp at the child-like whimsy that’s been wisped away now that reading week is over, will continue in the FAB gallery until March 18th.