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The World is Still Flat: Landscapes on Paper

Student-organized Exhibition Opens at the Smith College Museum of Art July 27

The Smith College Museum of Art is pleased to announce the opening of "The World is Still Flat: Landscapes on Paper," the second annual exhibition produced by participants in the Summer Institute in Art Museum Studies (SIAMS) under the direction of senior managers of the Museum. The exhibition will be on view from Friday, July 27, through Sunday, September 2, in the Winslow Teaching Gallery of the Museum.

Founded in 2006 by Suzannah Fabing, former director of the Smith College Museum of Art, SIAMS is a six-week intensive program designed to give students a thorough introduction to the world of art museums as well as facilitate understanding of the basic functions of these institutions. Comprised of classroom instruction, day and overnight trips to museums, conversation with museum professionals, and hands-on education by SCMA staff, the culmination of the program is an exhibition that is curated, designed, and organized by SIAMS students who have been mentored by Museum staff.

For this year’s exhibition, students were challenged to select a body of work from over 50 landscapes pre-selected by members of the Museum’s curatorial staff, around which a unifying theme was then developed. Program participants were divided into four focused task groups for the exhibition: Curatorial, Design, Marketing, and Education. Despite the distinct responsibilities of each group (which included the complete installation of the exhibition by the Design team), creativity and collaboration were challenges that unified all teams and allowed for a cohesive process.

“Involvement in the SIAMS program is given priority by members of the Museum’s staff each summer because of the Museum’s long-standing, deep commitment to providing students with relevant, applicable, hands-on opportunities for learning about the Museum field,” says Jessica Nicoll, director of SCMA.

"The World is Still Flat" invites the viewer to consider the question: What makes a landscape? The flat reality of paper challenges the illusory depth of the landscape, yet artists must reconcile the task of representing the expanse of nature within a two-dimensional paper surface. Armed with principles of perspective and a sense of the natural world, artists traditionally enlist the formal principles of foreground, middle ground, and background to create a semblance of space. Other artists take greater liberties in representing a natural place, forgoing conventions of perspective and eliminating such basic elements as a horizon line.

"The World is Still Flat" explores how artists carve volume, whether deep or shallow, within the confines of the paper’s surface. Choosing from a variety of methods, such as line, pattern, horizon, layering, and framing, artists attempt to capture the illusion of depth. The landscape on paper flattens the world, but also provides artists with numerous spatial possibilities for depicting the natural world.

The exhibition features 19 wide-ranging works, including a Hokusai woodcut and the Edward Hopper print American Landscape (1920), a quintessential example of the artist’s work. The objects range from a 16th-century etching to contemporary photography.

"The World is Still Flat" was organized by the students of SIAMS, class of 2007. Smith College is grateful to The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for partial support of this program.


7/25/07   SCMA Press Release by Margi Caplan
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