Mark Snyder: Death Drives a Dragster


CEPA Gallery Big Orbit Project Space exhibition of Mark Snyder, Death Drives a Dragster

CEPA Gallery is proud to present Death Drives a Dragster, an interactive installation by University of Buffalo MFA candidate Mark Snyder. The exhibition will be on view Friday, April 18 through Sunday, May 4 at CEPA’s Big Orbit Project Space. A reception for the artist and the public will take place from 8-11pm on FRIDAY, APRIL 25



Artist Statement:

At 15, I got my first job, at 16, I got my license, at 17, I bought my first car… it was a dragster…
The car was a 1965 Plymouth Satellite, American Muscle, with a 383-Commando motor modified for drag racing by nitrous lines, racing slicks, magnesium rims, traction bars, lift kits and a hood-scoop that could block out the sun. The motor had been pulled out and sold off but many of the racing components remained. The interior was in a rough and rusted state. However, peering through the muscular stance and competition gear I saw my opportunities, my pride and
my escape. My father saw a worthless wreck and wanted it disposed of. I spent months restoring it back to its black leather and chrome interior origins. The body was repainted midnight black–the only color that seemed proper—and the vinyl Landau roof was topped in a cream color that reminded me of an October moon. To finalize the transformation, I bought my father’s car, ripped out his motor and transplanted it into mine, cannibalizing the remainder of his car’s
carcass to friends and others.

Relatedly, as I have rebuilt and fixed the many cars I’ve owned over the course of my life there is a sense that I am trying to achieve some measure of the excellence that I believed my father expected of me. They are a reflection of the troubles, failures and successes in my life. The automobile has become totemic, the dragster a fiery beast at the zenith. The dragster embodies the purity of form in dominating straight-line psychic drive, a constant and endless search for perfection. It also possesses the monstrous power to destroy either my challengers or me. A friend of mine once told me all motorcycles want to be either race-bikes or choppers, almost all are not. I think the same could be said of cars, they want to be racecars or dragsters, however, they often end up as conveyors of groceries, children to school recitals or adults to dead-end jobs.

The loud voices of self-doubt inside my head can sometimes only be drowned out by the brash screaming sound of a motor on the edge of destruction. Speeds nearing annihilation push away the world so that there is only me. And as I repeatedly tempt and creep upon death, destroying all those things that would have at me, I achieve a calm that lasts at least for a short time.

– Mark Snyder


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