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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.

  • Tuesday, November 4, 2014

    Student Picks: BREAKING WAVES - Exploring Water in Black-and-White Photographs

    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 Kyle Boyd '15 discusses her show “BREAKING WAVES - Exploring Water in Black-and-White Photographs” which will be on view FRIDAY, November 7 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). Oregon Coast, 1939. Gift of Mrs. Edwin H. Land. Gelatin silver print mounted on paperboard. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 1996:22-7

    Water has been a reoccurring theme throughout my life. I was born near Lake Champlain, one of the largest lakes in the United States. My parents gave me the middle name of Acadia, after the national park, which sits next to the Gulf of Maine.  I grew up in the Connecticut River Valley. Summers were always filled with water activities at the ocean, lakes, ponds, and rivers. I was comfortable in the water and joined a swimming team when I was eight years old, and I’ve been swimming ever since. Water has been a constant throughout my life.

    Edward Weston, American (1886 - 1958). Rain over Modoc Lava Beds, California, 1940. Gelatin silver print mounted on paperboard. Purchased. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 1941:12-5

    At Smith I have continued to learn more about the water world as I have pursued a degree in biology with a minor in marine science and policy. My courses have focused on marine animals including invertebrate diversity, invertebrate paleontology, and marine ecology. I spent my junior year away from Smith and immersed myself in marine studies. In the fall I spent a semester studying the ocean from an interdisciplinary perspective in Mystic, Connecticut. In the spring I travelled to Far North Queensland Australia to study the plants and animals of the rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef. 

    Harold Edgerton, American (1903 - 1990). Water From a Faucet, 1932. Gelatin silver print. Gift of Lynn Hecht Schafran, class of 1962. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 2003:43-1c

    Water has always fascinated artists but the invention of photography expanded the ways in which water could be portrayed. Photographs allow you to play with perspective by allowing you to see things in a way which the human eye cannot. There are photographs in this show that are taken incredibly close-up; one, Water from a Faucet by Harold Edgerton (above), is focused on water coming out of a faucet. Another, Point Reyes, CA by Marilyn Bridges (below), was taken from a helicopter looking down on the seashore, and people on the sand are tiny and barely visible. Photography allows you to capture fast moving scenes such as waves, and waterfalls and pause them in a moment while still maintaining incredible detail. When most people think about water they think about the color blue. These photographs are all in black-and-white but there is still an unmistakable water quality about each image.

    Marilyn Bridges, American (1948 - ). Point Reyes, CA, 1981. Gelatin silver print. Gift of Nicole Moretti Ungar, class of 1982, and Jon Ungar. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 2009:49-9

    I hope you all enjoy looking at water from a new perspective. I would like to thank the Cunningham Center and Maggie Kurkoski ’12 for all of their help in putting this show together.

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    shohanali - 11/11/2014

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  • Tuesday, October 28, 2014

    Arise Ye Dead

    Ann Parker and Avon Neal, American. Arlington, Vermont: Portfolio of Rubbings from Early American Stone Sculpture Found in the Burying Grounds of New England, 1964. Gravestone rubbing in ink on paper. Gift of Mrs. Harold E. Hodgkinson (Laura White Cabot, class of 1922). Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 1964:39-11

    Ann Parker and Avon Neal, American. Newport, Rhode Island: 1771; Portfolio of Rubbings from Early American Stone Sculpture Found in the Burying Grounds of New England, 1964. Gravestone rubbing in ink on paper. Gift of Mrs. Harold E. Hodgkinson (Laura White Cabot, class of 1922). Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 1964:38-12

    Detail of faces (Newport, Rhode Island)

    In the years after 1630, the Puritans settled in what soon became known as New England on the east coast of the United States. Although they were iconoclasts, or opponents of any and all "graven images," within a generation their cemeteries had moved from simple text-only markers to tombstones with intricate folk designs.

    Ann Parker and Avon Neal, American. Sturbridge, Massachusetts: Portfolio of Rubbings from Early American Stone Sculpture Found in the Burying Grounds of New England, 1964. Gravestone rubbing in ink on paper. Gift of Mrs. Harold E. Hodgkinson (Laura White Cabot, class of 1922). Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 1964:37-6

    While some gravestone artists became well-regarded enough to be remembered by name today, many worked only in their local towns or villages. Style ranges throughout the region.

    Looking at the sermons, letters and the general abundance of written material that the Puritans left behind, their preoccupation with death and the eternal emerges again and again. Their headstones weren't free from this mania: many feature skulls and crossbones, skeletons, written reminders to the viewer that they, too, will die one day. In the gravestone below, even Death himself is personified. An hourglass emphasizes how any mortal's time is slowly running out. To a modern observer, the effect is rather morbid.

    Ann Parker and Avon Neal, American. Salem, Massachusetts: Portfolio of Rubbings from Early American Stone Sculpture Found in the Burying Grounds of New England, 1964. Gravestone rubbing in ink on paper. Gift of Mrs. Harold E. Hodgkinson (Laura White Cabot, class of 1922). Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 1964:39-1

    Detail of Death (Salem, Massachusetts)

    Detail of Skeleton (Salem, Massachusetts)

    Many gravestones also referenced the Last Judgement, the final day of humanity in the Christian faith when the bodies of the dead would rise from their graves. Below, one tombstone features an angel trumpeting out a message for that fateful day: Arise ye dead.

    Ann Parker and Avon Neal, American. Wakefield, Massachusetts: 1765; Portfolio of Rubbings from Early American Stone Sculpture Found in the Burying Grounds of New England, 1964. Gravestone rubbing in ink on paper. Gift of Mrs. Harold E. Hodgkinson (Laura White Cabot, class of 1922). Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 1964:38-1

    Ann Parker and Avon Neal captured dozens of these unique gravestones from all around New England through stone rubbings. By placing a piece of paper on a grave and gently rubbing a piece of chalk over it, the image transfers onto the paper, preserving the intricate carving. As the original gravestones are constantly exposed to the environment, which wears down their faces, Ann Parker and Avon Neal saved these ghostly images for future generations to see.

    Ann Parker and Avon Neal, American. Brookfield, Massachusetts: 1798; Portfolio of Rubbings from Early American Stone Sculpture Found in the Burying Grounds of New England, 1964. Gravestone rubbing in ink on paper. Gift of Mrs. Harold E. Hodgkinson (Laura White Cabot, class of 1922). Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 1964:38-13

    Ann Parker and Avon Neal, American. Spencer, Massachusetts: Portfolio of Rubbings from Early American Stone Sculpture Found in the Burying Grounds of New England, 1964. Gravestone rubbing in ink on paper. Gift of Mrs. Harold E. Hodgkinson (Laura White Cabot, class of 1922). Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 1964:37-2

    Ann Parker and Avon Neal, American. Old Deerfield, Massachusetts: Portfolio of Rubbings from Early American Stone Sculpture Found in the Burying Grounds of New England, 1964. Gravestone rubbing in ink on paper. Gift of Mrs. Harold E. Hodgkinson (Laura White Cabot, class of 1922). Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 1964:37-8

    Comments

    john - 26/08/2015

    Say Thanks

    I must hereby stop and say thanks for this historical and informative post about the history. Especially, the images you have shared in this post are really worthy. I will surely share the link of this post with my friends and hope they will find it interesting also.

    Avon Waters - 28/11/2014

    Avon Neal and Ann Parker

    Many thanks to Mrs. Harold E. Hodgkinson for the gifts. My uncle and aunt did great works and many of these I have never seen before. It brought back many fond memories being with them on a couple outings to watch them work. Thanks

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  • Wednesday, October 22, 2014

    Early Acquisitions of Photography

    This post is part of a series about the early years of the print, drawing and photograph collection. Early acquisitions of photography are on view in the Works on Paper gallery (2nd floor) until December.

    Luke Swank. American, 1890–1944. Grains in the Sunshine, Early 1930s. Gelatin silver print. Purchased. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 1933:4-1

    “Fotografie ist Lichtgestaltung.” [Photography is manipulation of light] 

    —László Moholy‑Nagy, 1895–1946

    The Smith College Museum of Art began to acquire photographs in the 1930s under the directorship of Jere Abbott. Abbott was the founding Associate Director of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York prior to his tenure at Smith, where he served as the Museum’s second director from 1932 to 1946.

    MoMA was one of the first American museums to establish a photography collection, a program Abbott brought with him to SCMA. The current installation (on view on the Works on Paper gallery, 2nd floor) includes early purchases made for the collection as well as gifts from Abbott and others. They show the range of subjects, styles, and approaches typical of early twentieth-century modernist photography, including portraits, abstraction, nudes, still lifes, and film stills. 


    Paul Cordes. American, b. 1893. Portrait of Gene Loring of the Ballet Caravan, c. 1936. Gelatin silver print mounted on paperboard. Gift of Paul Cordes. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 1938:8-10

    Paul Cordes used dramatic lighting and sharp focus to highlight his subjects. Above is a portrait of the dancer Eugene Loring as the title character from his first choreographed ballet, Harlequin for President.

    Many early twentieth-century portrait photographers were as concerned with the visual properties of their images as they were with presenting a likeness of the sitter. The light from the left highlights Loring’s face and hands, while his body is enveloped in darkness. His sidelong gaze, accentuated by the black grease paint covering his face, adds to the brooding and melancholy feeling of the image.

    Grigorij Aleksandrov. Russian, 1903–1983. Untitled film still from Old and New, begun as The General Line, c. 1929. Gelatin silver print. Gift of Jere Abbott. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 1937:1-1

    This image (above) is from a Russian propaganda film written and directed by Grigorij Aleksandrov and Sergei Eisenstein, which concerned the modernization of collective farming in the Soviet Union. Originally filmed as The General Line while Leon Trotsky was still an influential force in the government, the film was released in an edited version, under the title Old and New, after Trotsky was officially purged by Joseph Stalin.

    This still captures an important moment in the film in which the heroine offers the fabric from her skirt to help the hero repair the new mechanized tractor.

    László Moholy Nagy. American (born Hungary), 1895–1946. Shadows on Sand (or Play), c. 1929. Gelatin silver print. Purchased. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 1933:4-6

    Moholy-Nagy was an influential teacher at the Bauhaus, becoming a professor at this school of the fine and applied arts in 1923. His photographs display what he saw as a “new vision.” Above, the artist has used a high perspective, a strong contrast between shadows and light, and an emphasis on the surface textures of sand and cloth to transform a scene of children playing on the beach into an abstract image that transcends narrative. 

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