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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, March 3, 2016

    Student Picks: Zeal and Discontent

    Student Picks is 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 Junmanee Cadenhead '16 discusses her show "Zeal and Discontent: Ecstatic Scenes in Japanese Art" which will be on view FRIDAY, March 4 from 12-4 PM in the Cunningham Center for the Study of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs. We hope to see you there!

    Katsukawa Shun-ei, Japanese, 1762 - 1819. The Actor Danjûrô V in a Shibaraku Role, ca. 1790. Woodcut printed in color on paper. Purchased with the Winthrop Hillyer Fund. SC 1915:10-4

    Silly monsters and bored figures adorned in beautiful textiles are juxtaposed with overwhelming scenes of distress spattering the corners of the Cunningham Center. Japanese prints have inspired artists for centuries yet are seldom given the attention they deserve. 

    Unknown, Japanese. Monster, n.d. Woodcut printed in color on paper. Bequest of Henry L. Seaver. SC 1976:54-456

    This exhibition celebrates the bold and dynamic lines of Hokusai, the calm and mysterious landscapes of Hiroshige, and the glimpses of everyday life by Toyokuni. 

    Katsukawa Shun-ei, Japanese, 1762 - 1819. The Actor Danjûrô V in a Shibaraku Role, ca. 1790. Woodcut printed in color on paper. Purchased with the Winthrop Hillyer Fund. SC 1915:10-4

    This entire process of combing through the collection and pulling out the beautiful art work exhibited today has been a remarkable experience. I’m proud to bring these powerful pieces to light and relish in the opportunity to share them with the public. 

    Katsushika Hokusai, Japanese, 1760 - 1849. Faces, from Hokusai Manga (Random Sketches by Hokusai), Series VIII, 1818. Woodcut printed in color on paper. Gift of Mrs. Arthur B. Schaffner in memory of Louise Stevens Bryant, class of 1908. SC 1959:271a


  • Thursday, February 25, 2016

    To Know Ourselves: Exploring the Work of Black Artists in SCMA's Collection

    Saar, Alison. American (1956–). Topsy-Turvy. 1999. Sculpture; wood painted red and black with plaster, metal and cloth. Purchased with the Janet Wright Ketcham, class of 1953, Acquisition Fund and the Kathleen Compton Sherrerd, class of 1954, Fund for American Art.

    This Saturday, Beryl Ford '17 will be giving a gallery talk at the museum titled "To Know Ourselves: Exploring the Work of Black Artists in SCMA's Collection". What is especially exciting about this is that Beryl is our Student Picks curator for April! Her exhibition in the Cunningham Center is April 1 from 1-4 PM, and will examine similar themes of Black identity through photography. I highly encourage those who can to come to both Beryl's talk this weekend and her Student Picks Show!


    Lovell, Whitfield. American (1959–). Temptation. 2000. Sculpture; charcoal on wood, four frames with glass, chair and metal hook. Purchased with the Hillyer-Tryon-Mather Fund.


  • Thursday, February 18, 2016

    Hypnerotomachia Poliphili

    Aldius Manutius and Francesco Colonna. Triumph of Leda, from Hyperotomachia Poliphili, 1499. Woodcut printed in black with text on paper. Purchased. SC 1950:34a,b

    During the Renaissance, scholars began to move away from basing academic theory on Christian theology, focusing instead on the rediscovery and analysis of classical texts.   The Hypnerotomachia Poliphili (Poliphili’s Dream Strife of Love) was a text written in 1499 by Francesca Colonna, and was obviously influenced by this movement. It is one of the most elegant books of the time period, with an elaborate typeset page layout and 168 detailed woodcut illustrations.

    Detail of text

    Though it was written in Italian, a significant portion of it also used Latin and Greek grammar and vocabulary constructions. Poliphili, lover of all things, searches in his dreams for his love Polia—all things—through an increasingly bizarre series of classically-inspired landscapes. It is implied that Polia is meant to represent all of classical antiquity; something that we can experience through texts and images and imagination, but never truly fully experience. The woodcut illustrations depict images related to a number of ancient civilizations, with text in Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Arabic, and ancient Egyptian.

    Detail of Triumph of Leda

    The page of the Hypnerotomachia Poliphiliin our collection is of the Triumph of Leda, part of a series depicting a parade of the lovers of Zeus. Accounts differ as to whether or not this seduction was willing, as female consent was not a particularly high priority in these kinds of narratives. However, this particular image shows Leda as exultant, embracing the swan on top of a chariot drawn by elephants, surrounded by a crowd of musicians and onlookers. It is intended to be a celebration of the power that love can hold over all beings—even gods.