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Paper + People is a blog about the Smith College Museum of Art’s collection of over 18,000 prints, drawings, and photographs. Here you will find a diverse array of posts written by museum staff, students, scholars, and other paper enthusiasts about anything pertaining to the collection.

Any works you see featured here are available to view by appointment.

  • Thursday, October 17, 2013

    What’s your ART STORY?

    President Kathleen McCartney visiting her "Art Stories" exhibition with Jessica Nicoll '83, Director and Louise Ines Doyle '34 Chief Curator of the Museum of Art

    Art is powerful. It leads us to new ideas, challenges our set opinions, invokes grief, delight, contemplation. Art has been reported to cause severe dizziness, even fainting, when individuals encounter particularly beautiful works (an unusual circumstance known as Stendhal Syndrome).While most of us haven’t passed out in front of Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring,we can all recall works that make our heart beat a little bit faster.

    President Kathleen McCartney visiting her "Art Stories" exhibition with Jessica Nicoll '83, Director and Louise Ines Doyle '34 Chief Curator of the Museum of Art

    This upcoming weekend, Smith College will formally welcome Kathleen McCartney as the 11th President of Smith College. The Museum is celebrating her inauguration with ART STORIES,a special exhibition featuring art that has left a lasting impression on the widespread Smith community.

    We received stories from faculty and staff, alumnae and students. Highlighted here are select stories about works on paper, usually housed in the Cunningham Center.

    Sandy Skoglund –Walking on Eggshells

    Sandy Louise Skoglund. American (1946 - ). Walking on Eggshells, 1997. Cibachrome. Purchased with the Janet Wright Ketcham, class of 1953, Acquisition Fund. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 1997:20.

    From Cynthia Allen, Smith College class of 1983: “My 3-year-old daughter Isabelle saw the Sandy Skoglund exhibition in 1998 at my 15th reunion. Two of the pieces from the exhibition caught her eye-The Cocktail Party and Walking on Eggshells. Her godmother went down to State Street and bought her a bag of Cheetos, which until that day had not passed her lips. The caveat was Isabelle had to eat them the way the mannequin in the cocktail party room did - with a stiff, robotic bag to mouth motion.”

    (Want to see “The Cocktail Party” by Sandy Skoglund? Click here for a video of its installation at the McNay Art Museum!)

    “The second piece she was entranced with was Walking on Eggshells. So much so that when we went home she arranged all her stuffed bunnies in our bathroom, along with a few rubber snakes, and I then had to blow several eggs for her to step on. Life imitating art.”

    Martin Puryear - Cane portfolio

    Martin Puryear. American (1941 - ). Portfolio for suite of prints from Cane, 2000. Tan cloth covered cardboard folder. Purchased with the gift of the Arch W. Shaw Foundation, through the courtesy of Nancy Simonds Shaw, class of 1972, administrator, and other individuals. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 2000:36a.

    From Daphne Lamothe, Smith faculty member: “Knowing my interest in the writing of Jean Toomer, a giant of the Harlem Renaissance, Alona Wilson, spouse of my colleague Louis Wilson and a former museum employee told me about Puryear's illustration of a special edition of Cane, Toomer's collection of short stories and poems.”

    Martin Puryear. American (1941 - ). Karintha, from the portfolio Cane, 2000. Woodblock printed in black ink on Kitakata paper. Purchased with the gift of the Arch W. Shaw Foundation, through the courtesy of Nancy Simonds Shaw, class of 1972, administrator, and other individuals. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 2000:36-1.

    “This is a gorgeous, lyrical book, which students can also find challenging and opaque. Taking them to the museum to visit the Puryear prints and spending time discussing what of the stories's themes and symbols he captured in his abstract drawings makes the book come alive for my students.”

    Martin Puryear. American (1941 - ). Esther, from the portfolio Cane, 2000. Woodblock printed in black ink on Kitakata paper. Purchased with the gift of the Arch W. Shaw Foundation, through the courtesy of Nancy Simonds Shaw, class of 1972, administrator, and other individuals. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 2000:36-5.

    “We spend time looking at the multiple shades of the wooden box he carved for the book; and talking about the shapes, shades of black and white, and lines etched in the abstract woodblock illustrations. The visual language of the illustrations provides a gateway into thinking about the themes of multiracial identity, racial segregation and strife, connection and disconnection which run throughout Cane.”

    Martin Puryear. American (1941 - ). Avey, from the portfolio Cane, 2000. Woodblock printed in black ink on Kitakata paper. Purchased with the gift of the Arch W. Shaw Foundation, through the courtesy of Nancy Simonds Shaw, class of 1972, administrator, and other individuals. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 2000:36-6.

    ART STORIESwill be on view until February 9, 2014. You can find more personal accounts from the Smith community in the Nixon Gallery, second floor, and spread throughout the Smith College Museum of Art.

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  • Thursday, October 10, 2013

    Student Picks: Brahma Vihara - The Sublime States

    Student Picksis a SCMA program in which Smith students organize their own one-day art show using our collection of works on paper. This month’s student curator and guest blogger Mina Zahin ‘15 discusses her show “Brahma Vihara: The Sublime States” which will be on view TOMORROW, Friday, October 11 from 12-4 PM in the Cunningham Center for the Study of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs. We hope to see you here!

    Peter Max. German, 1937 - . Prana,1967. Photo lithograph in color on paper. Purchased. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 2011:38-93.

    Brahma Vihara is a show inspired by a series of four Buddhist virtues and the meditative practices that cultivate them. Making and viewing art can be meditative and create a sublime and euphoric feeling. These artworks invoked those feelings in me. There is something mystical about these pieces and the way your eyes move from one artwork to the other, bringing fluidity to the visual experience. 

    W. Dayle. American, 20th century. Untitled (seated Buddha),before 1968. Screenprint in green and red on black paper. Purchased. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 2011:38-135.

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  • Thursday, October 3, 2013

    Eye on the Street: Joel Meyerowitz

    Joel Meyerowitz. American, born 1938. St. Louis (long series of outdoor steps, figures on top),1977. Vintage chromogenic contact print. Gift of Nicole Moretti Ungar, class of 1982, and Jon Ungar. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 2011:71-138.

    “[These photographs] are about my inner connections. I’m bringing my whole life to bear on that split second… These pictures are signs that you came to consciousness for a brief second in the flow of your life, which is so overloaded with stimuli that it can drive you away from concentration.” - Joel Meyerowitz

    In the early 1960s, Joel Meyerowitz suddenly gave up his career as an advertising art director to take photographs on the New York City streets. While at first Meyerowitz shot both black and white and color film, in 1972 he made the unconventional decision to devote himself exclusively to color photography. Recognizing its unique capability to convey the experience of perceived light, Meyerowitz would become a persistent advocate for and master of color photography, which was most often associated with advertising until the 1970s.

    This bold new direction led Meyerowitz to spend the summers of 1976 and 1977 in Provincetown, MA, where he created his first innovative color series, Cape Light. Working in a slow-paced environment allowed Meyerowitz to retire his hand-held 35mm camera in favor of a large-format camera and tripod which is more stable and suitable for shooting with sensitive color film. The novel and transformative experience of photographing his quiet, peaceful surroundings drastically altered the character of his subsequent urban street photography. Meyerowitz abandoned his prior active and “gestural” approach, in which he created images full of people and motion, and instead made subtle and contemplative studies of natural light in urban landscapes.

    Joel Meyerowitz. American, born 1938. St. Louis (building with bricked-in garage doors),1977. Vintage chromogenic contact print. Gift of Nicole Moretti Ungar, class of 1982, and Jon Ungar. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 2011:71-139.

    Joel Meyerowitz. American, born 1938. Empire State (Fowler-Williams),1978. Vintage chromogenic contact print. Gift of Nicole Moretti Ungar, class of 1982, and Jon Ungar. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 2011:71-122.

    In his series St. Louis and the Arch (1977) and Empire State (1978), Meyerowitz proves that beauty can even be found in such mundane places as a parking garage or loading dock. He presents these overlooked city scenes with a keen eye for the expressive nuances of light and shadow, yet Meyerowitz retains what he calls the “street wit” of his earlier work. For instance, the iconic Empire State Building appears in every Empire State series photograph, yet the tallest building in New York is so overshadowed by the arresting beauty the rest of the scene that it may go completely unnoticed. Meyerowitz’s photographs teach us to look slowly, carefully, and deeply at our surroundings in order to make a connection with a particular place or moment in time, as he does in his work: “It may be the slant of the light, it may even be a smell, something not visible; you may feel yourself rooted to the spot where suddenly there’s a smell of salt water mixed with roses, and it’s got your number. At that moment you know, ‘I’m alive. Here, now.’”

    These and other photographs by Joel Meyerowitz, Garry Winogrand,and Danny Lyonare currently on view in Eye on the Street: Trends in 1960s and 1970s Photographyat SCMA until October 6, 2013. Catch Eye on the Street before it closes this weekend!

    Joel Meyerowitz. American, born 1938. Empire State (Yale Trucking),1978. Vintage chromogenic contact print. Gift of Nicole Moretti Ungar, class of 1982, and Jon Ungar. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 2012:84-47.

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