Hills Snyder, a Magdalena, New Mexico artist, creates works on paper inspired by road trips and small towns in middle America.
Hills Snyder travels through history, myth, and middle America through a combination of road trips, drawings, and written episodics honoring towns with redolent names like Funk, Eden, and Bummerville. In 2010, Snyder spent nine days on the road, in a reversal of the route curator Jens Hoffmann took for his Artpace San Antonio exhibition On the Road, replacing objects previously gathered on a drive through Texas and New Mexico. This series of actions titled One Kind Favor included returning sand to White Sands and visiting the “father of Texas Blues” Blind Lemon Jefferson’s grave. The project later led to subsequent road-based works, Altered States (2016-ongoing) and Your Nowhere is My Somewhere. See you there (2017).
With Altered States, Snyder, a good-humored observer, continues to add to this series of drawings and essays after his travels, many made as part of the Ucross Foundation Residency in Wyoming in 2016. His seemingly sparse drawings and lyrical writings are equally frank and fanciful, laden with Easter eggs of perception, color, and plentiful space to think. In this way, Snyder’s work mirrors the nation and road upon which he treads. Snyder deeply connects to the poetics of place, whether it be a limerick, an elegy, a soliloquy, or an epic—though most often his work contains a bit of each.
A Lubbock native and long-time San Antonio resident, Snyder currently runs a petite gallery called kind of a small array in Magdalena, New Mexico. A former trail’s end and present-day arts center, Magdalena serves as a small town setting for Altered States, which has been exhibited in Lincoln, Nebraska and San Antonio, Lubbock, Marfa, and Houston, Texas. In 2023, it will be presented at the Bale Creek Allen Gallery in Fort Worth, Texas.
Snyder appreciates the invisible in roadside towns dripping with ennui—making monumental a stray cat, a stranger’s trail-side lecture, a beer can, a rusty key. Through place Snyder connects to friends both real and legendary: Jeff Wheeler, an honest woodcutter, Hermes, Cynthia Ann Parker, and the United States itself.
Hills Snyder’s interactive work Steam will be presented November 4 at ripple effect in Santa Fe.