West Liberty University’s Nutting Gallery welcomes its next exhibition, Portals: Paintings by Kara Ruth Snyder, this week. Featuring abstract acrylic and mixed media paintings, it will open with a public reception from 5:30 – 7 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 2 and remains on display through Oct. 24.

The paintings in this exhibition are inspired by meditation and are presented as potential doorways into (or out of) the consciousness of both artist and viewer, according to Robert Villamagna, director of the Nutting Gallery.snyderk2_rush

Snyder’s artist’s statement explains further:

A portal is a doorway, an access, an exit or an entrance, a gate. In this collection of recent work, the artist shares the artistic results of her disciplined practice of meditation. Her art process is a challenge to lose the ego by manipulating the physical elements that make up the painting and then letting the materials speak for themselves. Striving to create from a more universal consciousness, the painting then becomes a record of her meditative experiences. The painting continues to do its work by acting as a possible portal. The borders of the painting itself mimic a window of some sort…a two-way street where the art is a “snapshot” from the mind of the artist and the viewer gazes upon this and is invited to try to see “something.” The materials themselves and their physical characteristics will have an energetic impact. The size and orientation of the work, the pigment, the gestural direction of the various brushstrokes and markings, and the placement of compositional elements all meld together to form an impression, conscious or not, upon the viewer. The artwork/portal beckons the viewer to also meditate for a moment, perchance expanding his or her existential awareness. Hence, a portal is a path taking you from one set of parameters to another. This path may be transformative for some, potentially leading to higher levels of consciousness. Interestingly, in addition to the painting itself, the act of painting, the electronic sharing of imagery, and the gallery space that houses the artwork also act as portals to the consciousness of both artist and viewer.

Snyder paints large abstract works in acrylic paint on canvas.  She uses other materials such as pumice, fiber and oil sticks as well.

“I work primarily with brushes and palette knives of many sizes but am known to use my fingers, hands and finger nails quite often. I frequently pour paint from the jar onto the canvas or “draw” directly from the tube of paint, creating a variety of markings,” added Snyder. Although she works spontaneously and quickly, pieces are revealed slowly over time. This is accomplished through a cyclical process of layering paint, followed by scraping, wiping, or washing it away in certain areas–and then layering the pigment on again, and so on.”

“I first saw Kara Ruth Snyder’s work in the summer of 2012”, said Villamagna. “I was visiting a friend in Brownsville, Pa., and while there I stopped by the Frank L. Melega Art Museum. Ms. Snyder’s work was on exhibit there at the time. I found her abstract works to be forceful and invigorating. I contacted Ms. Snyder immediately about exhibiting at the Nutting Gallery.”snyderk2_insideout

“I have been drawing and painting for many years. In 2006 I had a major loss of vision from diabetic retinopathy. I continue to paint despite the challenges of legal blindness. This loss in vision has profoundly re-shaped my art in recent years.  As my physical vision changes, so does my world perspective. This experience has driven me to investigate the energy inherent in objects, places and people in an even deeper way than before. As a result, my expression of the world through paint has taken quite a turn as well,” explained Snyder.

“Through the practice of meditation and the study of unified field theory and eastern philosophies, such as Buddhism, Taoism and Hinduism, I have come to understand my spiritual connection to the cosmos in a new and meaningful way.  It is precisely through the medium of paint that I strive to harness the power and subtlety of this perceived world,” she said.

Snyder holds bachelor degrees in philosophy and art history from Duquesne University and an associate degree in computer animation and multimedia from The Art Institute of Pittsburgh. She lives in the Squirrel Hill section of Pittsburgh with her husband and son.

All exhibitions at the Nutting Gallery are free and open to the public. The Nutting Gallery is open 8:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m., weekdays, with evenings and weekends available by arrangement. For more information contact Villamagna at 304-336-8370 or at [email protected]