RSS Feed

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, April 6, 2017

    STUDENT PICKS: Let Them In

    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 Julia Xu '19 discusses her show Let Them In: Community in Asian Art which will be on view FRIDAY, April 7 from 12-4 PM in the Cunningham Center for the Study of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs. We hope to see you there!

    Yue Minjun. Chinese, born 1962. The Grassland Series, Screenprint 4, 2008. 28 color screenprint on moderately thick rough white wove paper. Gift of Pace Editions Incorporated and Ethan Cohen Fine Arts courtesy of Ann and Richard Solomon (Ann Weinbaum, class of 1959) and Ethan Cohen.


    “For people’s hearts to communicate, there must be genuine emotion to strike a chord.”

    - Wu Guanzhong


    Amer, Ghada (born Egypt, 1963); Farkhondeh, Reza (born Iran, 20th c.) Kiss Cross, 2006. Lithograph printed in color with hand sewn elements on paper. Purchased with the Josephine A. Stein, class of 1927, Fund in honor of the class of 1927.


    We see Asia being represented by the West. But how do contemporary Asian artists depict themselves and their community? In this exhibition, art works by Asian artists reveal their own thoughts about their communities and their people across varied media – from photography, prints, to mixed media on paper. Formed out of the artists' experiences and observations, the art works here take you to a journey through the dreamy and immersive presentations of the Asian community.

    Lin Tianmiao. Chinese, born 1961. Focus I B, 2006-2007.  Lithograph printed in black on STPI handmade paper with embedded thread. Gift of Friedman Benda LLC.


    Abstract and realistic works co-exist, since the strong emotion behind them unifies and connects them together in stunning ways. Growing up in Asia, the motifs and signs in the artworks relate to me strongly. I wish to share this experience with the Smith community, and I hope you enjoy this opportunity to learn more about the SCMA paper collection as a great resource.

    The exhibition is made possible by Colleen McDermott and the Cunningham Center for Prints, Drawings and Photographs.


  • Friday, March 24, 2017

    The Many Faces of the Grotesque

    Guest blogger Renee Klann is a Smith College student, class of 2019. She is the 2015-2017 STRIDE Scholar in the Cunningham Center for Prints, Drawings, and Photographs


    What comes to mind when you hear the word grotesque? Monsters? Caricatures? The grotesque is a broad and continuously evolving category that helps people grapple with unnatural or repulsive things.

    The term grotesque originated from the 15th-century discovery of ancient Roman murals, which were mistakenly believed to be in a grotto. The murals featured half-human, half-animal figures whose limbs transformed into foliage or ornamental scrolls. Many artists, including Jean Jacques François Lebarbier, adopted this style and made hybrid creatures popular ornaments.

    Jean Jacques François Lebarbier. French, 1738-1826. Family Group, illustration for L’histoire de Xenophon, ca. 1797. Bistre on paper. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Lifton (Loretta Jane Silver, class of 1952) and Dr. and Mrs. Ernst Greif (Carol Lynn Silver, class of 1955). SC 1971:15-13 

    However, the grotesque includes not only fanciful decorations, but also depictions of the monstrous. Unnatural creatures were meant to frighten audiences, often conveying religious or moralistic messages. Sloth from the Seven Deadly Sins series includes a personification of the titular sin as well as demons that tempt and torment people. This disturbing scene was meant to remind viewers of the consequences of their actions.



    Hieronymus Cock, Early Netherlandish, ca. 1510-1570. After Pieter Brueghel the elder, Early Netherlandish, 1525/1530-1569. Sloth, from The Seven Deadly Sins Series, 1558. Engraving printed in black on paper. Gift of Mrs. John Wintersteen (Bernice M. McIlhenny, class of 1925). SC 1957:82

    There can be ambiguity between whimsical and disturbing grotesques, and in more recent times artists have drawn on both these traditions. This exhibit presents five types of grotesque: fantastical hybrids, unsettling hybrids, demonic creatures, monstrous beings, and mythical races. Come to the museum to learn more and to see the evolution of the grotesque for yourself.


    Odilon Redon. French, 1840-1916. Printed by Just Becquet. Les Sciapodes: - La Tête le Plus Bas Possible..., from À Gustave Flaubert - la Tentation de St. Antoine, ca. 1889. Lithograph printed in black on chine appliqué on heavy white wove paper. Gift of Mrs. Bertram Gabriel Jr. (Helen Cohen, class of 1948) in memory of her parents, Sadie and Sidney S. Cohen. SC 1989:21-7



    Trenton Doyle Hancock. American, 1974-. The Cult of Color, from The Ossified Theosophied, 2005. Etching printed in color on Hahnemühle Copperplate bright white paper. Purchased with the gift of Janice Carlson Oresman, class of 1955, and the Janice Carlson Oresman, class of 1955, Fund. SC 2006:13-3



  • Thursday, March 2, 2017

    STUDENT PICKS: Not Your Forte? Exploring Depictions of Music

    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 Annie Titan '20 discusses her show "Not Your Forte? Exploring Depictions of Music" which will be on view FRIDAY, March 3 from 12-4 PM in the Cunningham Center for the Study of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs. We hope to see you there!

    Moorman, Charlottte; Kowal, Cal. American (Moorman 1934 - 1991) (Kowal 1956 - 1984). Charlotte Moorman performing on her "Cello Bomb", 1984. Gelatin silver Polaroid print. Gift of Carl Solway.

    Music has always been a constant in my life; from my dad lulling me to sleep as a baby with the Grateful Dead, to discovering my love for piano in the 3rd grade, and continuing to now with the weekly playlists I make for the radio show I co-host. My love of music inspired this exhibition idea: to explore various depictions of music across cultures, time periods, and types of media.

    Wilson, Wes; Creative Lithograph Company, Oakland, California (publisher).  American, born 1937. Grateful Dead May 5th, Fillmore Auditorium, 1967.  Screenprint in color on paper. Purchased.

    Spanning Europe, Iran, the U.S, Asia, and Latin America, this show includes literal representations of music, such as prints and photographs of people playing instruments, posters advertising for musical events in the ‘60s, and a 15th century Italian manuscript page with bars of music. Abstract representations of instruments are also incorporated, such as the “Cello Bomb” and Cymbals, Harry Sternberg’s etching of two Olympian-like figures in a cloud of smoke with lightning going through the middle, evoking the visuals and sound of the percussion instrument.


    Sternberg, Harry. American (1904 - 2001). Cymbals, 1993. Etching and aquatint on paper. Gift of Edmund S. Morgan. 

    I want to bridge the divide between contemporary and older works and create interesting dialogue between the two. What can one observe about the way music was represented 500 years ago as compared to now? What are people’s motivations behind playing music? In what way is music valued differently between cultures? How do different cultures present the idea of music in a visual context? What makes Street Musicians, by Italian-British photographer Felice A. Beato, an albumen print of Japanese people seen playing string instruments and dressed in traditional Japanese clothing, different from Native Music, by Guatemalan artist Carlos Mérida, a pochoir print of Guatemalans playing drums and flute while dressed in their native costumes? What do these varying representations say about the cultures that produced them?


    Beato, Felice A. British born Italy (ca. 1825 - ca. 1904). Street Musicians, ca. 1868. Albumen print with hand coloring mounted on cream colored paperboard. Purchased with the Hillyer-Tryon-Mather Fund, with funds given in memory of Nancy Newhall (Nancy Parker, class of 1930) and in honor of Beaumont Newhall, and with funds given in honor of Ruth Wedgwood Kennedy.

    I hope this show inspires you to question the ways you previously thought music could be depicted, and excites you to listen to new types of music! Thank you so much to Colleen McDermott for her fantastic help in putting this show together.