Editor's note: To interview Sally Fisher or to request high-res images from the exhibit, e-mail Marti Hobbes.
NORTHAMPTON, Mass.—"The Cat Lover Speaks" is a fun and fact-filled exhibition of books and prints featuring felines from the collections of the Mortimer Rare Book Room at Smith College. The exhibition, which is free and open to the public, was curated by Sally Fisher, an Ada Comstock Scholar who graduated from Smith in May with a degree in studio art.
Fisher's exhibition includes historical cats, cats and rats, cats as mothers, cats in advertising, costumed cats, cute cats, and much more. There are a number of unique items on display, including three early 19th-century watercolors by Irish artist William Mulready, which depict cats as English gentry, and a pen-and-ink caricature of Lincoln Kirstein, drawn by Edward Gorey.
Kirstein, founder of the New York City Ballet, was the sister of Mina Kirstein Curtiss, Smith College class of 1918, who donated many of her books about cats to the Smith College Library. Curtiss taught English at Smith and founded the Chapelbrook Foundation (which awarded grants to writers over the age of 40) at her home in Ashfield, Massachusetts.
Ruth Mortimer, curator of rare books at Smith from 1975 until her death in 1994, was herself an ailurophile, and during her tenure at Smith she compiled lists of cat-related items in the library. Sally Fisher, assisted by rare book specialist Barbara Blumenthal, chose many items for the exhibition which had been identified by Mortimer.
The Cat Lover Speaks is on view in the Book Arts Gallery on level 3 of Neilson Library through July 31. A reception to celebrate the exhibition will be held on Friday, June 22, from 4-5:30 p.m. Refreshments will be served, and the event is free and open to the public. For more information, please contact the Mortimer Rare Book Room (413-585-2906 or firstname.lastname@example.org).