Death Drives a Dragster: New Work by Mark Snyder

Death Drives a Dragster: New Work by Mark Snyder

Opening Reception: April 25th, 8-11pm
@ Big Orbit Gallery, 30D Essex St., Buffalo, NY 14213

Death Drives a Dragster

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

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

Lauren Tent