Collection Artwork
Jenny Snider (born New York, New York, 1944)
Shadow on the Wall
1985
oil on canvas
canvas size: 16 x 20 in.
Gift of Dona Nelson
2020.12.1
Signed in black on white-painted ground, canvas verso, upper right: Jenny Snider
Inscribed, canvas verso, upper right, right of white-painted section: 1985
Inscribed and dated in black on white-painted ground, canvas verso, lower right: SHADOW ON THE / WALL 1985
Label from Edward Thorp Gallery adhered, canvas verso, lower right

Ongoing Research

Research on our collection is ongoing. If you have resources you’d like to share, please contact Associate Curator Rebecca McNamara.

Tang Collective Catalog


As I was walking around the print room, trying to find a painting to connect with, or to draw my attention, was quite difficult. I felt overwhelmed by the many options there were. Each painting had its unique story that was intriguing but, not captivating enough; however, there was one painting that caught my attention and had me intrigued. Where exactly does this painting take place? Is the shadow on the wall related to the person next to it? What do the faces look like to the people in the painting, and where are they going? The more I look at the painting the more I can see the people move, and I can sense the story behind it.

Shadow on the Wall was created in 1985 by Jenny Snider. You can see there are three people, a car, a wall next to one of the people, and a shadow; however, the shadow can count as the fourth person in the painting. The shape of the shadow shows the form of a human body just lingering in the painting. The color palette of this painting reminds me of a cloudy, rainy day when you’re out in town and you still must do errands and get things done despite the weather. There are a lot of whites, blues, greys, and black in this painting. You can’t see the faces of the people in the painting, which gives you the freedom to imagine what their faces look like or the expression they might have. The more you look at the painting the more details you notice. The way the brushes have stroked the canvas and the way each color goes in a different direction but all blend well with one another, catches my attention. You can see the sharpness of the colors and the little bumps of paint that were left behind. Usually, paintings look smooth and soft; you can’t even believe they are paintings. You want the painting to feel finished and perfect; however, with the Snider painting, this is not the case. The borders of the canvas also do not seem perfect: there is paint left behind. The canvas is messy. You feel able to see and to understand the rawness of the painting and the emotion added to it. You feel the vulnerability of the painting and its invitation: to go inside the painting, and learn more about the emotions the people are hiding from you.

The car is driving off somewhere to another location that is not visible. The way the colors are painted—and the direction of the color—suggests the car might have driven by a puddle of water that almost splashed onto the person walking across the street. The wall or the building next to one of the people has several different colors painted on it but it could just be a brick wall or a store. The wall reminds me of the brick wall in downtown Saratoga Springs where several drawings are done on brick. You’re now walking in downtown Saratoga Springs, several times past the brick wall and weirdly enough, when you get toward the end of the wall you arrive at the intersection of a street, just like in the painting. There will always be people waiting by the crossroads waiting for the lights to turn red to walk across the street; one of the people in the painting is waiting to do so. You’re wondering what direction they are going? What is making them enter that small shop downtown? Why are they deciding to go right instead of left? Sometimes you will see those people who take risks and decide to cross the street even though cars are moving, and the lights are green instead of red. It’s quite odd how one painting can remind you of certain scenarios that are part of everyday life.

Suddenly, you have immersed yourself in the painting and you’re now the shadow. Lingering around, looking and listening, trying to take everything in and get adjusted to the feeling of not being seen. You’re confused as to where exactly the shadow will be taking you. The person next to you doesn’t see you and you’re trying to get their attention, but they are too busy looking at the person crossing the street because they like what they are wearing and are debating if they want to ask the person where they got the coat. It could also be that the person is crossing the street as cars are passing by but then again, you are just a shadow and are not a mind reader. You walk away from the person next to you and you start to observe and look at the two other people. The person with the yellow coat made it across the street safely and is now going to enter a coffee shop that is next to the brick wall. You had noticed the person wearing all dark blue clothes and saw they looked relieved that the person made it to the other side safely. As you turn to the right to see what’s beyond the brick wall you notice that there are so many different restaurants, boutiques, coffee shops, all waiting to be discovered and explored. The shadow then decides to keep walking and lingers at each shop looking through the window curious as to what the people are doing and why they decide to walk on this side of the street.

The color of the painting may suggest that the day might have been a dull one for the people in the painting but for you, the opportunities are endless, and you just want to be able to explore this small town that was not visible to the spectator but that is now visible to you, the shadow. The shadow that was next to the person originally escaped the painting and is flowing by people, shops, animals, and cars. No one can see you or hear you and you like it better that way, because you are seen but not noticed or bothered.


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