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, December 9, 2014
Guest blogger Janna Singer-Baefsky is a Smith College student, class of 2015, majoring in Art History with a Museums Concentration. She is a Student Assistant in the Cunningham Center for Prints, Drawings, and Photographs.
Moyra Davey. Canadian (1958 - ). Untitled from 16 Photographs from Paris, 2009. Folded digital c-print with paper and cellophane tape, postage, and ink. Purchased with the Dorothy C. Miller, class of 1925, Fund. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 2010:19-4
When I was eleven, my parents took our family to Paris. The excitement was palpable; other than the occasional trip to Toronto to visit family, I had never flown this far before. I did not know what to expect. Would it be the romanticized world of baguettes, cheese, and art that I had dreamed about or would my imagination let me down? From the moment I stepped off the plane, Paris did not disappoint. She was everything I had dreamed about and more. This was a city alive – everyone was going somewhere, doing something. Paris was the first city I fell in love with. When we boarded the plane to go home, it was pouring rain. It was a sign that Paris was going to miss me as much as I was going to miss her – I promised myself I would go back.
About ten years later, I boarded a plane in Heathrow. Destination: Charles de Gaulle Airport. My best friend from high school was studying in Paris while I was studying in Oxford. It would be a reunion with both my loves.
I began my first day in the Louvre and ended it in the Musée d’Orsay café, sipping a small cup of coffee. When I look at Moyra Davey’sUntitled from 16 Photographs from Paris, I am brought right back to that moment. I can smell the faint mixture of cigarettes and floral perfumes. I can hear the conversations of couples, tourists, and school children. I can taste the rich, bitter, perfectly brewed cup of coffee.
The composition is simple and elegant, much like the city. The cup and spoon are in focus and everything else – the open sugar packet, the table top – are blurred into the background. To me, it is a metaphor for the singular moment of consumption, when all the troubles and stress of the day also fade into the background as one stops to enjoy a simple cup of coffee. This photograph captures what is, perhaps, the most beautiful thing about Paris. It is an environment conducive to pausing, reflecting, and enjoying life’s most basic pleasures.
I now make a habit of enjoying a cup of tea or coffee every day to give myself a necessary moment to pause. It is something I had forgotten to do for many years until I was reminded by an afternoon in a café and an unassuming photograph. I have fallen in and out of love with many cities over the years, but I’ll always have Paris.
Thursday, December 4, 2014
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 Emily Kim '15 discusses her show “ALWAYS CONTAINER, SOMETIMES CONTAINED” which will be on view FRIDAY, December 5 from 12-4 PM in the Cunningham Center for the Study of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs. We hope to see you here!
Chester J. Michalik, American (1935 - ). Untitled (Las Vegas), 1983. Color photograph on paper. Purchased. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 1985:28-2
Architecture today is often seen less as an art form and more as articulated spaces tailored to human needs. It can be hard to see the beauty in a glass curtain wall skyscraper or a cookie-cutter motel when compared to, say, a Van Gogh.
Juan Laurent, French (1816 - 1892). Interior of the Mosque Cordova, ca. 1860s. Albumen print in bound photograph album. Purchased with 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. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 1982:38-1224
But being able to find and capture the beauty of a seemingly generic space is an art in and of itself. Architecture is (or if not, should be) first and foremost about functionality. That being said it is still an art form - an outlet for creative minds to rethink how we live our everyday lives and how we can improve them.
Unknown artist after Katsushika Hokusai, Japanese. Storm, early 20th century. Woodcut printed in color on paper. Bequest of Henry L. Seaver. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 1976:54-461
Always Container, Sometimes Contained attempts to celebrate “the box” as an art piece, a stimulating and intriguing ode to something often thought of as a simple "container."
Wednesday, November 19, 2014
Guest blogger Anya Gruber is a Smith College student, class of 2016, majoring in Art History. She is a Student Assistant in the Cunningham Center for Prints, Drawings, and Photographs.
Smith College students are no strangers to wit and well-timed sarcastic comments. Nor are we strangers to feminism and fighting for equality of all kinds. The Guerilla Girls, a group of women who remain anonymous by taking on the name of dead female artists, seem like they would fit right in at Smith. They create posters with sharply satirical messages and images, cutting straight to the heart of the deeply ingrained sexism and racism that is all too characteristic of the art world. They focus primarily on the underrepresentation of women and people of color in galleries and museums, but also comment on Hollywood, playwriting and art publications. They criticize the imbalance of politics, and defend women’s rights. The Guerrilla Girls themselves seem like a very interesting, dedicated group of people – to maintain anonymity, they wear gorilla masks to every public appearance.
Guerrilla Girls, American 20th century. Hormone Imbalance, Melanin Deficiency, 1993. Offset lithograph printed in black on medium thick, smooth, white paper. Purchased with the Josephine A. Stein, class of 1927, Fund in honor of the class of 1927. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 2014:31-32
For the past week or so, I’ve been helping to catalogue 68 Guerrilla Girls prints that the Cunningham Center recently purchased. I was familiar with the Guerilla Girls before I started this project, but the only one of their posters I could readily recognize was the most famous one, “Do women have to be naked to get into the Met. Museum?” with the image of the nude woman with the ubiquitous, delightfully monstrous gorilla head.
Guerrilla Girls, American 20th century. Do women have to be naked to get into the Met. Museum? from Guerrilla Girls, Most Wanted 1985 – 2006, 1989. Photolithograph printed in color on paper. Purchased with the gift of the Fred Bergfors and Margaret Sandberg Foundation. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 2006:44-7
Now, looking at all the prints as I’m cataloguing them, I feel like I’ve learned so much. They make use of a lot of statistics and other factual information to make their point which, alongside incredibly pointed remarks and bold headlines that capture your attention, makes quite a memorable combination.
Guerrilla Girls, American 20th century. Bus Companies are More Enlightened Than NYC Art Galleries, from Guerrilla Girls, Most Wanted 1985 – 2006, 1986. Lithograph printed in black on paper. Purchased with the gift of the Fred Bergfors and Margaret Sandberg Foundation. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 2006:44-4
The Guerrilla Girls are bringing attention to very serious issues in concise, daring posters. The posters make their point quickly, and their sharp sarcasm makes the facts all the more shocking, knowing that what they’re saying is absolutely true.