Amy Brook Snider was my friend. Our relationship started as one of student and teacher, but over the 20 years since we first met, we became professional collaborators and personal confidants. She was one of the few people who religiously read this blog. I could always count on her to answer emails, be it 11:30pm or 4:15am. Yet, she constantly reminded me that talking on the telephone is the best way to stay truly and intimately connected to loved ones far away.
Amy passed away earlier this month. I will miss her wit and wisdom. She loved to read and collect obituaries from the New York Times. I’m sorry that I can’t write a review of her life on par with what appears on those pages. She was working on a memoir I hope to read someday, and I hope others will be able to read. Her acceptance speech for the National Art Education Women’s Caucus June King McFee Award in 2002 offers some highlights from her life and work. And here are a few things I won’t forget about her.
Amy never met a person she couldn’t make a friend. She was always telling me about someone new she’d met on a line someplace and wound up having coffee with, making plans for a new project or exchanging family photos. It was the same with her students. So many of us approached her about “possible” studies at Pratt, and quickly found ourselves caught in her web.
While she, somewhat reluctantly, got a cell phone a few years ago, she still had a phone with a cord hanging in her kitchen. It was the longest cord I’ve ever seen, ever. When we would talk, I often imagined her pacing around her apartment with that cord trailing behind her…
Amy kept an annotated list of mystery novels she’d read, complete with a short summary and personal review. She took this to the library with her to help her make new selections and ensure she didn’t take home anything she’d read before.
A lifelong New Yorker, Amy had one of the greatest collection of house plants I’ve ever seen. She dedicated half her living room to it, no small thing in small scale, apartment living.
Amy was an true intellectual. Her interests were varied and she read deeply in many areas. I often described her as an “artist’s art educator” because her passion for ideas, images, and objects, surpassed her interest in academic rhetoric, which she had little patience for.
She was a progressive through and through. The last night I spent at her apartment, she dozed off early but called me into her room when Steve Colbert came on the television so we could watch him dress-down The Lump together.
In 2017 she participated in Handwriting the Constitution, a collaborative study of our nation’s founding document. Amy had distinctive handwriting, and always wrote extensive comments on students’ work. She couldn’t help herself. It was part of her feminist approach to teaching, and just being.
I miss you already. I hope you are somewhere wonderful, watching movies and eating chocolate.