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WENDY SNYDER MACNEIL


1943 - 2016 Obituary Condolences
WENDY SNYDER MACNEIL Obituary
MacNEIL, Wendy Snyder, 1943-2016 Photographer and filmmaker Wendy Snyder MacNeil died at her home in Lincoln, Massachusetts on the afternoon of July 20, with her immediate family at her side. She was born in Boston, MA on October 15, 1943, the daughter of Dr. John C. Snyder and Virginia Ferry Snyder. Following three years in New York City, the family moved to Massachusetts in 1946; MacNeil graduated from Milton Academy in 1961, majored in history at Smith College, and in 1967 earned her MAT in Visual Studies from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where she began her long career as a photographer and teacher. She studied painting and drawing with the American artist Elizabeth Saltonstall while at Milton Academy, and first encountered photography during her graduate work, initially through workshops led by Bartlett Hayes, Director of the Addison Gallery of American Art, and Gordon ("Diz") Bensley, a faculty member in the Art Department at Phillips Academy in Andover, MA. Her excitement about this new medium led her to become a student of the noted photographer Minor White, in the Creative Photography Program which White had just established at MIT. She began teaching in 1967 at Abbot Academy in Andover, MA, where she set up a new photography program; she remained at Abbot until 1973, when she was appointed Assistant Professor of Art at Wellesley College. She taught at Wellesley from 1973 to 1985, and also worked with her colleague Eugenia Parry to co-organize the symposium Photography Within the Humanities, in 1975. She joined the faculty of the Rhode Island School of Design in 1976, where she continued teaching until 2007. Students from her years at Abbot include photographers Francesca Woodman and Wendy Ewald. Photographers Natalia Almeda, Sally Gall, George Lange, Justin Kimball, Jon Miller and Christina Seely, as well as curator Sylvia Wolf, were students of MacNeil during her years at RISD. During her intensely productive two decades as a photographer, MacNeil constantly strove to develop new approaches to documentary image-making and to extend the narrative range of photographic portraiture. She was awarded fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, and her work was widely exhibited and published: by the MIT Press (Haymarket, 1970), the Aperture Foundation (The Snapshot, 1974), and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (New American Photography, 1984), as well as in many anthologies and exhibition catalogues. Her remarkable platinum-palladium prints have been collected by museums including the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum in New York, the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, TX, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, MA, and the Davis Museum at Wellesley College. In 2007, MacNeil selected the Ryerson Image Centre at Ryerson University in Toronto, Ontario as the recipient of her archive, and the completion of this donation was celebrated in 2016 with the exhibition and catalogue, Wendy Snyder MacNeil: The Light Inside, Photographs and Films. The Ryerson exhibition included the Canadian premiere of When the Ice Goes Out, MacNeil's latest film, which she co-directed with filmmaker Jeremy Leach. Excerpts from MacNeil's film work were also screened as part of the Ryerson Image Centre exhibit, including Birthday (1990), Entre Chien et Loup (1993), Miss BlindSight/The Wingwall Auditions (2000), The Lost Bird (2003), and The Go Cart (2008). MacNeil is survived by her husband, Ronald MacNeil, daughter Jazimina and son Noah, daughter-in-law Yuki Shibata, and brothers Don and Gordon Snyder, as well as their families. A memorial service will be held in August, near MacNeil's beloved summer home in Chesham, New Hampshire.

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Published in The Boston Globe on Aug. 2, 2016
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