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.

  • Monday, February 3, 2014

    Student Picks: Soulful Rebellion

    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 Kenny Clarke '17 discusses her show “Soulful Rebellion: The artwork known as graffiti” which will be on view THIS FRIDAY, February 7 from 12-4 PM in the Cunningham Center for the Study of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs. We hope to see you here!

    Richard Estes, American (1932 - ). Subway from the portfolio Urban Landscapes III, 1981. Silkscreen printed in color on white Fabriano cotton paper. Gift of Janice Carlson Oresman, class of 1955. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 1982:32-1

    I have always been interested in graffiti as an artwork. When others think of graffiti they think of the defacement of property, gang initiations and signs. I, on the other hand, think of beautiful rebellious art that tells a gripping story.


    Aaron Siskind, American (1903 - 1999). Lithuanian Shoemaker 3, 1957. Gelatin silver print. Gift of Lynn Hecht Schafran, class of 1962. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 2003:43-3j


    Gary Simmons, American (1964 - ). Flaming Boom Box, 2005. Four color lithograph printed on white Pescia paper. Purchased with the Elizabeth Halsey Dock, class of 1933, Fund. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 2007:5-1

    I chose graffiti to show people what I fell in love with. Just like any other form of art, graffiti can invoke a great range of feelings. I wanted my audience to understand the difference between the art of graffiti and simply defacing property.

    Elliott Erwitt, American born France (1928 - ). Southern Charm, Alabama, from Photographs: Elliott Erwitt, 1951-1968. Gelatin silver print. Gift of James Hunter. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 1979:46-9

    Thank you so much to Margaret Kurkoski and the Cunningham Center for making this show possible.  


  • Wednesday, January 29, 2014

    Tell your ART STORY

                 President McCartney views paintings in the permanent collection of the Museum of Art.

    This past semester, the Smith College community welcomed our new president, Kathleen McCartney, with open arms. The Museum celebrated her recent inauguration with ART STORIES, a special exhibition featuring art that has left a lasting impression on the widespread Smith community.

    We received stories from faculty and staff, alumnae and students. Highlighted here are select stories about works on paper, usually housed in the Cunningham Center.

    Andy Warhol – Vote McGovern

    Andy Warhol. American (1930 - 1987). Vote McGovern, 1972. 16-color screen print on Arches 88 paper. Purchased. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 1973:6

    From Jean K. Dudek, Smith College class of 1979: “‘Vote McGovern’ is a portrait of Richard Nixon. It is not, shall we say, flattering. His face is green. Julie Nixon is an alumna from the class of 1970, before this work was created. I wonder if any other father of a Smithie has his portrait in the Smith College Museum of Art.”

    “Monsters” exhibition

    From Haley Crockett, Smith College student, class of 2015: “This past January term I worked as a teacher's aide as part of a Hampshire course called K-12 Teaching Pre-practicum. I worked in 9th and 10th grade English and writing classrooms. The 9th grade students had an assignment to compare works of art, and the teacher I was working with, Ms. Strauss, allowed me to choose the works in the museum that the student would compare.”

    Justin Lieberman. American (1977 - ). Candles, 2012. Ink, watercolor, marker and collage on very thick, rough, white paper. Gift of Suzi Schiffer Parrasch, class of 1982, and Franklin Parrasch on the occassion of her 30th reunion. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 2012:22

    “As soon as I saw the monster's exhibit I knew the students would love how vibrant and modern the works were. It was incredible to see students who were usually causing trouble in the classroom engaged and calling to their friends to look at the ‘super awesome’ paintings and pictures of monsters. The visit to the museum with the students was my favorite part of my teaching pre-practicum experience.”

    C.A. Lane - Lane's Telescopic View of Great Exhibition of 1851


    C.A. Lane, British. Lane's Telescopic View of Great Exhibition of 1851. Engraving printed in color on paper folded into a book-like object. Purchased. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 1951:136.

    From Janis Mink, Smith College class of 1977: “I loved my 19th century architecture class with Helen Searing. For her class I did a report on a large glass building constructed in Hyde Park for the Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations, 1851. It turned out that the Smith Museum had a paper mock-up of the building, which I brought to class and showed.”

                      View through the viewfinder of “Lane's Telescopic View of Great Exhibition of 1851”

    “The Crystal Palace is an important work for the history of modern architecture, as it was an innovative work that used pre-fabrication and pushed glass production to the extreme. It was visionary, as well as environmentally sensitive and poetic, as its length was 1851 feet, corresponding to the year, it spanned the crowns of Hyde Park trees, including them in its interior space and preventing their felling, and it could be broken down and reassembled in another location after the temporary exhibit. And it was not built by an architect!”

    ART STORIES will be on view until February 9, 2014. You can find more personal accounts from the Smith community in the Nixon Gallery, second floor, and spread throughout the Smith College Museum of Art.


  • Wednesday, January 22, 2014

    Objects in Limbo

    Guest blogger Saraphina Masters is a Smith College student and the 2013-2015 STRIDE Scholar in the Cunningham Center for Prints, Drawings, and Photographs.

    The concept of “limbo,” of objects existing without information in an art museum, is discordant with the casual observer’s perception of fine arts institutions. Don’t we live in an age of digital databases and intense organization, both of which ought to prevent the displacement of any work of art? A look behind the scenes, however, can show how easily human error or simple forgetfulness can lead a piece of art into limbo, into an existence without cataloging, captioning, or even a proper home.

    Since time is such a large factor in this concept, it makes sense to mention the evolution of collecting and cataloguing in museums. Early catalogue systems were simply note cards and filing cabinets, while today we use electronic databases and software. Additionally, the value of a piece can, and often does, change over time. That can affect the way it is catalogued and handled, which can in turn lead to its misplacement. These variables and more all contribute to the story of an object and how it ended up where it was when I found it.

    My work with a box of loose prints, which I refer to as Box B2, led me down multiple rabbit holes of research and intrigue. My task was to gather as much information on each piece as possible. This collection of seemingly random prints came with varied levels of information. Some were clearly and helpfully labeled, while others came with nothing at all. My first steps were translating captions in other languages, deciphering antiquated handwriting, and making educated guesses about origin and style.

    Then, the unexpectedly intense research process comes in. Simply googling the words on a print can produce some results, if the piece is relatively well known or unique. However, many of the prints were too obscure or unforthcoming for such an easy solution. This is where databases such as that of the Five College Museums and the Getty Research Institute’s searchable list of artists’ names, ULAN, can be useful. These resources, in addition to auction results and historical websites, make the investigatory task of information gathering possible.

    One particular print that required quite a bit of research was a Goya etching that upon first examination seemed to be called Una Reïna Del Circo. Translated as The Queen of the Circus from Catalan, I assumed the caption of the piece to be the title. However, I went to Hillyer Art Library to find out more about the etching and after looking in quite a few books on Goya, I recognized the image of the etching under a different name.

    This piece is actually called Disparate puntualor, or Precise/Sure Folly, and is part of Francisco de Goya’s 18 piece series called Los Proverbios; in English, the Proverbs or the Follies. From there I was able to move forward with my research, trying to find out more about its origin and how it came to the museum. The confusing labels, as well as the multiple translations, made this story layered and complex. Uncovering information about this print took more than simple observation. Like much art historical research, multiple sources, including auction sites, textbooks, and the Cunningham Center itself, were used to learn more. This Goya print has quite a story, only a fraction of which played out in my examination of it.

    Each work has a narrative as engaging and complicated as the Goya print, and there is a whole box of them, in addition to other unidentified prints in museum. Perhaps that provides an idea of the scope and quantity of suspended objects that are unknown in origin. In Box B2 there was an entire sheaf of prints that was labeled “The following were found in a closet in a campus security office in 1989”. We may never know how those works of art came to be in that closet, and who put them there. What matters is that we have them now, and can do our best to find out what we can about them. Little by little, we can pick away at the indeterminate “limbo” of objects, and through research bring the histories of lost pieces to light.