Three years ago, Steven Snyder started seeing faces in everything, from the tile in the shower to old pieces of wood. It was also around that time that Snyder, who was married with children and working in real estate in Denver, started wearing makeup and transitioning to the female gender.
Faces-sometimes dark, sometimes playful- began appearing in Snyder’s paintings on wood. Some of the faces tell stories about the feelings of vulnerability that women often experience on a daily basis.
“About Face-The Journey to Female,” Snyder’s new show at 7 Arts Gallery that opens on January 5, chronicles her journey from male to female through mixed media images of faces that often blur the line between male and female identities.
“I didn’t know what would happen when I took my first step and began wearing makeup,” recalls Snyder, who moved from Denver to Santa Fe in 2015. “Clothing came next. I purged my closet of all my men’s clothes. I started wearing blouses and pants. Skirts came later.”
As a man, Snyder had zero interest in clothes, wearing shorts and t-shirts in Denver year-round. Now, she says she’s all about fashion and paints in a skirt. Fashion has become a big part of her paintings.
“I feel reborn as a new human being,” explains Snyder, who has not had her body physically altered. “I love every minute of being female.”
The joy that Snyder feels is reflected in the vibrant colors in her paintings. She uses all kinds of paints, many of which are purchased at hardware stores, except oils. She prefers painting on wood that is given to her or scavenged from dumpsters and construction sites. “The wood tells me where to put the paint,” she says. “I see dozens and dozens of faces in wood.”
Leftover paint has been used to create another body of work. “I paint out of tubes and always have leftover paint that I randomly apply to boards,” she adds.
While Snyder only has been devoting herself to painting full time since 2015, she says “I always saw art as my later life career. I love painting.”