Thursday, October 17, 2013

What’s your ART STORY?

President Kathleen McCartney visiting her "Art Stories" exhibition with Jessica Nicoll '83, Director and Louise Ines Doyle '34 Chief Curator of the Museum of Art

Art is powerful. It leads us to new ideas, challenges our set opinions, invokes grief, delight, contemplation. Art has been reported to cause severe dizziness, even fainting, when individuals encounter particularly beautiful works (an unusual circumstance known as Stendhal Syndrome).While most of us haven’t passed out in front of Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring,we can all recall works that make our heart beat a little bit faster.

President Kathleen McCartney visiting her "Art Stories" exhibition with Jessica Nicoll '83, Director and Louise Ines Doyle '34 Chief Curator of the Museum of Art

This upcoming weekend, Smith College will formally welcome Kathleen McCartney as the 11th President of Smith College. The Museum is celebrating her 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.

Sandy Skoglund –Walking on Eggshells

Sandy Louise Skoglund. American (1946 - ). Walking on Eggshells, 1997. Cibachrome. Purchased with the Janet Wright Ketcham, class of 1953, Acquisition Fund. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 1997:20.

From Cynthia Allen, Smith College class of 1983: “My 3-year-old daughter Isabelle saw the Sandy Skoglund exhibition in 1998 at my 15th reunion. Two of the pieces from the exhibition caught her eye-The Cocktail Party and Walking on Eggshells. Her godmother went down to State Street and bought her a bag of Cheetos, which until that day had not passed her lips. The caveat was Isabelle had to eat them the way the mannequin in the cocktail party room did - with a stiff, robotic bag to mouth motion.”

(Want to see “The Cocktail Party” by Sandy Skoglund? Click here for a video of its installation at the McNay Art Museum!)

“The second piece she was entranced with was Walking on Eggshells. So much so that when we went home she arranged all her stuffed bunnies in our bathroom, along with a few rubber snakes, and I then had to blow several eggs for her to step on. Life imitating art.”

Martin Puryear - Cane portfolio

Martin Puryear. American (1941 - ). Portfolio for suite of prints from Cane, 2000. Tan cloth covered cardboard folder. Purchased with the gift of the Arch W. Shaw Foundation, through the courtesy of Nancy Simonds Shaw, class of 1972, administrator, and other individuals. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 2000:36a.

From Daphne Lamothe, Smith faculty member: “Knowing my interest in the writing of Jean Toomer, a giant of the Harlem Renaissance, Alona Wilson, spouse of my colleague Louis Wilson and a former museum employee told me about Puryear's illustration of a special edition of Cane, Toomer's collection of short stories and poems.”

Martin Puryear. American (1941 - ). Karintha, from the portfolio Cane, 2000. Woodblock printed in black ink on Kitakata paper. Purchased with the gift of the Arch W. Shaw Foundation, through the courtesy of Nancy Simonds Shaw, class of 1972, administrator, and other individuals. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 2000:36-1.

“This is a gorgeous, lyrical book, which students can also find challenging and opaque. Taking them to the museum to visit the Puryear prints and spending time discussing what of the stories's themes and symbols he captured in his abstract drawings makes the book come alive for my students.”

Martin Puryear. American (1941 - ). Esther, from the portfolio Cane, 2000. Woodblock printed in black ink on Kitakata paper. Purchased with the gift of the Arch W. Shaw Foundation, through the courtesy of Nancy Simonds Shaw, class of 1972, administrator, and other individuals. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 2000:36-5.

“We spend time looking at the multiple shades of the wooden box he carved for the book; and talking about the shapes, shades of black and white, and lines etched in the abstract woodblock illustrations. The visual language of the illustrations provides a gateway into thinking about the themes of multiracial identity, racial segregation and strife, connection and disconnection which run throughout Cane.”

Martin Puryear. American (1941 - ). Avey, from the portfolio Cane, 2000. Woodblock printed in black ink on Kitakata paper. Purchased with the gift of the Arch W. Shaw Foundation, through the courtesy of Nancy Simonds Shaw, class of 1972, administrator, and other individuals. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 2000:36-6.

ART STORIESwill 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.

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