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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.

  • Monday, February 25, 2013

    Student Picks: Details - Finding Patterns in Nature

    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 Sharon Pamela Santana ‘14 discusses her show “Details: Finding Patterns in Nature” which will be on view this Friday March 1 from 12-4 PM in the Cunningham Center for the Study of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs. We hope to see you here! 

     

    Edward Weston. American, 1886-1958. Cabbage Leaffrom Fiftieth Anniversary Portfolio 1902-1952,1931; printed 1951. Gelatin silver print. Gift of Mrs. Edwin H. Land. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 1996:22-2a.

     

    Have you ever stopped to absorb and contemplate your surroundings? Have you ever paid attention to the elements that make up your existence?

     

    My Student Picks exhibition is inspired by patterns found in nature: simple, complicated, regular, and irregular. While images of very different elements such as vegetables and landscapes are included in the exhibition, they all speak to the splendor of the simple things in our environment. Viewers will find that in the end, nature comes together beautifully and even an artichoke on our plates can be an admirable work of art. I would like you to join me in the observation and appreciation of patterns in nature.

     

    Works by artists such as Ansel Adams and Edward Weston are included in Details: Finding Patterns in Natureprimarily for their sharp and contrasted attention to detail and their overall beauty. I enjoyed viewing and choosing these exquisite photographs, and I hope that viewers too will enjoy looking at them. I would like to thank the Smith College Museum of Art for the wonderful and fun opportunity to curate this Student Picks exhibition.

     

    As viewers can take the time to view these photographs, they may reflect on the following: If you ever think your life has become uneventful, and your everyday activities lose their excitement, think again. Observe, identify, and appreciate the shapes and colors in your surroundings. You will find that there is actually so much more to your daily routines when you open your eyes and look at the world around you with intention.

    Ansel Easton Adams. American, 1902-1984. Death Valley from Zabriski Point,1942. Gelatin silver print. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Beaumont Newhall (Nancy Parker, class of 1930). Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 1951:189.

    Ansel Easton Adams. American, 1902-1984. Water and Foamfrom Portfolio Three: Yosemite Valley,1942. Gelatin silver print. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Beaumont Newhall (Nancy Parker, class of 1930). Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 1973:80-8.

    Edward Weston. American, 1886-1958. Artichoke Halved,1930. Gelatin silver print. Gift of Mrs. Edwin H. Land. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 1996:22-6.

    Ansel Easton Adams. American, 1902-1984. Trees and Snowfrom Portfolio Three: Yosemite Valley,print 1960. Gelatin silver print. Date and source of acquisition unknown. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 1973:80-4

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  • Thursday, February 21, 2013

    Sol LeWitt: Lines Both Large and Small

    Sol LeWitt. American, 1928 – 2007. Circles,Plate 14 from the New York Collection for Stockholm,1973. Lithograph printed in black and gray on white moderately thick, slightly textured paper. Gift of Robert Rauschenberg. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 1976:56-14

    This spring we have two wonderful examples of Sol LeWitt’s elegant geometric compositions on view at Smith College. At SCMA, the current Cunningham Corridor installation Less is More: The Minimal Print(on view until May 5, 2013) contains a small LeWitt print from titled Circles(1973), while Burton Hall, home of the Smith College Mathematics department, houses LeWitt’s Wall Drawing #139 (Grid and arcs from the midpoints of four sides)(1972). Each represents important and complementary characteristics of his work: simple and complex, small and large, printed and drawn.

    Sol LeWitt, who coined the term “Conceptual Art,” created many prints, drawings, and “structures” (his term for sculpture) which are more dependent on ideas and logic than visual qualities or expression. LeWitt envisioned his role in the creative process to be akin to that of a musical composer or an architect, as his work is often based on written plans that are physically executed by others. He built a seemingly infinite number of compositions using a basic vocabulary of lines, arcs, and grids. When these simple geometric components are combined, they transcend their rudimentary nature to become complex abstract patterns. Anonymous in character and detached from emotion or feeling, LeWitt’s work is nonetheless alluring and graceful.

    As LeWitt began making his famous wall drawings in 1968, his work became increasingly ephemeral and collaborative. Beginning in 1970, printmaking provided LeWitt with the means of producing more permanent and reproducible images, while allowing him to relinquish control of the final appearance of the work through his collaboration with master printers. Like many of his prints, Circles(1973) was produced by a master printer from an original LeWitt drawing. With its black and gray lines, which resemble pen ink and pencil marks, this lithograph retains the impression of the drawing. The concentric circles and converging lines are not as exact and precise as they first appear. Contrary to the mechanical processes available to printmaking, LeWitt embraced subtle hand-produced imperfections such as the wavering lines in Circles.

    Detail of Sol LeWitt’s Circles(1973) showing hand-drawn imperfections which translated into the print.

    In January 2013, Wall Drawing #139 (Grid and arcs from the midpoints of four sides),an important early LeWitt wall drawing executed in black pencil, was installed on the third floor of Burton Hall. Integral to LeWitt’s artistic philosophy, his wall drawings are designed to be executed by anyone following his simple plans. Characteristic of LeWitt’s early work, its understated pencil-drawn style is similar to Circlesbut its grand scale and complex composition of overlapping lines and arcs makes its abstraction more apparent. As in its previous installation in the Museum in 2008, Wall Drawing #139was executed by Roland Lusk of LeWitt’s New York studio with the assistance of three Smith College students: Clara Bauman ’13, Mingjia Chen ’15, and Clara Rosebrock ’16. This impressive drawing was installed in just two weeks using simple tools such as pencils, rulers, compasses, levels, and plumb lines.

    Lusk and students draw the initial grid of Wall Drawing #139in Burton Hall, January 2013. Photography by Julie Warchol.

    Clara Rosebrock cleans the lines and smudges on Wall Drawing #139,January 2013. Photography by Julie Warchol.

    Mingjia Chen evens out the darkness of the lines in Wall Drawing #139using masking tape, January 2013. Photography by Julie Warchol.

    Detail of Wall Drawing #139 (Grid and arcs from the midpoints of four sides).Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 200:27

    Click hereto view a video of the 2008 installation of Wall Drawing #139and hereto read more about the 2013 installation at Burton Hall.

    Join us on Thursday, February 28 at 4PM in Burton Hall in front of the LeWitt’s Wall Drawing #139 (Grid and arcs from the midpoints of four sides)to hear different perspectives on the current installation!

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  • Thursday, February 14, 2013

    A Taste of Summer

    Guest blogger Janna Singer-Baefsky is a Smith College student, class of 2015, with a major in Art History and concentration in Museum Studies. She is a Student Assistant in the Cunningham Center for Prints, Drawings, and Photographs.

    Joel Meyerowitz. American, born 1938. Empire State, Windmill,1978. Vintage chromogenic contact print. Gift of Nicole Moretti Ungar, class of 1982, and Jon Ungar. SC 2012:84-49

    As the spring semester kicks into high gear, one thought is pulsing through every student’s mind: summer. As some scramble to finish applications for summer internships, jobs, and school, others are counting down the days until graduation or the first day of pure freedom. However, the piles of crusty brown salt-packed ice coated with a fresh dusting of clean, white snow are a constant reminder that summer is a long way away.

    I had not caught the summer bug yet, until one afternoon at work. I came across a newly acquisitioned Joel Meyerowitz photograph. His piece, Empire State, Windmill,captures the very essence of the season and suddenly I was just as restless for some fun in the sun as my friends. It is not so much the main focus of the image itself – the windmill – that grabbed my attention, but instead what surrounds it: the wilting sunflowers, the clear blue sky, and the shadows from the trees.

    Photographed in 1978, the image has now aged, coating the picture in a vintage hue which emphasizes the hazy atmosphere. The windmill blades sit frozen in the stagnant, hot summer air. Perhaps the streets are empty because the kids are in their last few days of classes, rushing through finals so they can play in the sprinklers, or maybe it is just too darn hot to move. Whatever the reason, we’ve all been there – that scorching summer day that starts at eight in the morning and carries through till the late evening.

    That is beauty of Meyerowitz’s photograph. He captures a fixed scene from his time that is still tangible thirty-five years later. It does not just looklike summer, it feelslike summer. Staring at this work I can almost feel the sun on my face and a gentle warm breeze. And so as I sit in my scarf and sweater, awaiting the next snow storm but dreaming of bright summer day, I am comforted by the fact that it is never too cold for ice cream.

    Comments

    Julie Warchol - 13/06/2013

    Joel Meyerowitz

    Hi Liz. Thank you for your comment. Work by Joel Meyerowitz will be on view at the Smith College Museum of Art this summer, from 7/12/2013 - 10/13/2013 in an exhibition called "Eye on the Street: Trends in 1960s and 1970s Photography." We hope you can check it out!

    Liz - 11/03/2013

    photo

    Thank you, Janna, for this taste of summer - and for the introduction to Joel Meyerowitz. I want to see more of his photographs and will look him up now.

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