The Rapidian

Artist Spotlight: snicka

This dispatch was added by one of our Nonprofit Neighbors. It does not represent the editorial voice of The Rapidian or Community Media Center.

A conversation between local artist, snicka, and Avenue intern, Kayla Cobetto.
snicka, "untitled", etchings on paper, 2013

snicka, "untitled", etchings on paper, 2013 /snicka

Underwriting support from:
snicka, "mr. b's mural", acrylic paint on fence, 2020

snicka, "mr. b's mural", acrylic paint on fence, 2020 /snicka

snicka, "self portrait", reduction linocut on mulberry paper, 2021

snicka, "self portrait", reduction linocut on mulberry paper, 2021 /snicka

It was a sunny Tuesday morning when I first met snicka at the crowded Lyon St. Cafe in bustling Midtown Grand Rapids. Having never met her before, I had no idea what to expect. Right from our first encounter, I knew our meeting would go well, as she was immediately kind and smiled brightly at me. We discussed many things, from her personal inspirations to being an artist in Grand Rapids. The following is a reflection of our conversation. 

Before meeting, I had discovered that she works in multiple media, including printmaking, papermaking, painting murals, and making music. When I asked about which is her favorite, she said that it had to be printmaking, specifically reduction linocuts. She mentioned that she has always been quite hard on herself, but that printmaking is “all about making mistakes and working through them.” It has taught her to give herself more grace. Printmaking is an intricate process that requires a lot of prepping and planning to accomplish, and that challenge appeals to her. She has a fondness for making art that not many others would have the patience to complete. snicka went on to mention that seeing artwork by Otto Dix is what initially inspired her to get into printmaking. She first saw his work as a foreign exchange student in Germany, and it was specifically his prints and paintings of exploited human figures that left an impression on her.  

Another artist that has inspired snicka is William Kentridge. I had never heard of Kentridge before this interview, but snicka informed me that he is a South African expressionist whose work shows a lot of emotion. She commented that his work is very graphic and stylized. In a room full of artwork, you’ll always be able to tell his from the rest. snicka admires Kentridge’s work ethic, and that he’s always trying to explore new media, which she does with her art as well.

As the conversation continued, we started talking about college jobs, and how they can alter your viewpoint. snicka worked at a thrift store, where she was delegated to price the wares (non-clothing items). Here she witnessed firsthand the endless waste and decay of consumerism; the excess struck a chord with her. There happens to be a history of hoarding in snicka’s family, which had created a complicated relationship between her and used items. This relationship made it difficult for her to decide the value of someone’s donated goods. One can see snicka’s struggle with the waste of consumerism in her art still to this day. 

Another aspect of daily life that profoundly affects art is location. I asked snicka how she believes living in Grand Rapids has influenced her as an artist. After a bit of thought, she mentioned how the recent surge of murals that have popped up throughout the city has inspired her. In fact, she was encouraged to paint her first mural by a friend in 2020 at the early days of the pandemic. Her friend knew of her talents and of her growing desire to get out of the house, and encouraged her to go out and paint her own mural, which has now become one of snicka’s many media. Her first mural was painted on a fence and titled, mr. b’s mural. snicka later went on to apply to the Heritage Hill Association’s Traffic Box Mural Project, where her own mural can now be seen at the corner of College and Wealthy Street. 

Besides inspiring her murals, Grand Rapids has impacted her printmaking as well. After all, there is so much beauty to heed, and if one just pays more attention there are treasures that will inspire you every day. The historic homes of Midtown and Heritage Hill are what have inspired much of her printmaking as of late. 

Another opportunity where snicka showcased her work was in The Avenue for the Arts’ artposts. She worked with fellow local artist, Bridgette McGee, deciding to create pieces with opposing themes. Since the posts’ were created around the New Year, Bridgette focused on renewal and growth, while snicka highlighted objects of the past, showing people being indulgent rather than focusing on their resolutions. This piece was made during a stressful time for snicka. The last thing she wanted to do was think about New Year’s resolutions she was bound to break. The artposts are a combination of found objects and magazines from the fifties and sixties. 

What is art without meaning? This is a question I ponder almost daily, and as I spoke with snicka, I knew I had to ask her about the meaning behind her works. “What is the most important message you want viewers to take from your work?” I asked her.  As soon as I did, she brought up one of her pieces, titled Self Portrait. It is a print of her in an oversized men’s suit, pressing the end of her tie down to a table. She looks defeated. Self Portrait was created during a time in her life when she had to quit a job she worked at for over eight years due to a close relative's struggle with addiction. This period made her think about how she defines success and the push and pull between a typical job and staying true to herself as an artist. A quote from Wayne’s World then came to her mind, “It's like people only do these things because they can get paid. And that's just really sad.” This idea is also why you can see plenty of men’s suits throughout her artwork, representing the corporate world she will never fully experience. There's more to life than just making money, which is an idea she wants all viewers to gather from her work. As a college senior graduating this spring, currently looking for my next career path, this is an idea with which I’m quite familiar. I’m glad to have found an artist whose work captures the internal struggle I’ve been feeling as a creative professional. 

Finally, with our coffee mugs officially empty, I decided to finish off our interview with one last question. “What is your dream project?” snicka decided to answer with her most current dreams. Her first is to attend an artist residency, which she defined as a place away from your own studio to dedicate time to creating art, a place away from life’s distractions. She would like to either attend a residency at Ox Bow in Saugatuck, Michigan, or ideally Germany, taking the time to try out new ideas. As for her second dream project, she’d like her band, The Cleavers, to perform live for the first time.  

We chatted for a little while longer before we went our separate ways, and I’m thankful that I got the opportunity to interview snicka. It’s not every day that you get to meet an artist with work whose themes hit so close to home. It is one thing to look at art and appreciate it for what it is, and it’s completely different to get to meet the artist and learn about their ideas and inspirations. Snicka is no longer just a person whose work I admire, but I person I look up to as well. 

To learn more about snicka and her artwork, visit her website at http://snicka.art/bio.html 

 
 

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