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Now everyone is an insider!

In order to provide an open forum for ALL of the museum’s collection and activities, the Paper + People blog is being renamed SCMA Insider. With its expanded focus, SCMA Insider will act as a go-to place for sharing information on the diverse collections and many voices and visions that shape SCMA.

If you want to contribute to the blog, please contact the Brown Post-Baccalaureate Curatorial Fellow, Shanice Bailey, at

  • Tuesday, March 17, 2015

    Hippolyte Arnoux

    Guest blogger Clementine Hamelin is a Smith College student, class of 2015, majoring in both Architecture and Geosciences. She wrote this post for Islamic Art and Architecture, a course which surveys the architecture, landscape, book arts and luxury objects produced in Islamic contexts from Spain to India, and from the seventh through the twentieth centuries. The Fall 2014 session was taught by Professor Alex Dika Seggerman, the Five College Post-Doc in Islamic Art & Architecture.

    Hippolyte Arnoux, French (active c. 1865). Photograph #1021 from Photographs of Egypt, no date. Albumen print mounted on paperboard. Transferred from Hillyer Arts Library. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 1999:23-1ii

    The French photographer Hippolyte Arnoux, who documented the construction of the Suez Canal in Egypt, is also known for his ‘ethnographic portraits’ of women often representing fake sultanas.

    The woman in the foreground is dressed with loose and light ornamented clothing, her face is partially covered by a transparent veil. It is greatly possible that the model is not herself Egyptian, underlining the effort to create an illusionistic, exoticized and fantasized image of Middle-Eastern women through on orientalist, colonialist – and literal photographic – lens that is characterized by a fascination for the ‘exotic’ orient.

    Detail of photograph

    The theme of the gaze is an interesting one – the model appears to be looking at herself in the mirror but is in reality looking at the mirror at an angle that makes it appear that she is directly looking at the photographer. She is made into an object to be seen by others – for the male gaze of the photographer, that of the West on the East, as the photographer objectifies and sexualizes the middle-eastern female body through this portrait and technique, which is of course not an accurate representative of the culture that he is representing.


  • Wednesday, March 11, 2015

    Kiss Cross

    Taylor Fallon is a Smith College student, class of 2016, with a government major and an art history minor. She wrote this post for Islamic Art and Architecture, a course which surveys the architecture, landscape, book arts and luxury objects produced in Islamic contexts from Spain to India, and from the seventh through the twentieth centuries. The Fall 2014 session was taught by Professor Alex Dika Seggerman, the Five College Post-Doc in Islamic Art & Architecture.

    Amer Ghada (born Egypt, 1963) and Reza Farkhondeh (born Iran, 20th century). Kiss Cross, 2006. Lithograph printed in color with hand sewn elements on paper. Purchased with the Josephine A. Stein, class of 1927, Fund in honor of the class of 1927. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 2008:45-2

    Ghada Amer and Reza Farkhondeh, artists of the Middle Eastern diaspora, create collaborative works that highlight the female figure through use of embroidery, paint and stenciling. While not works of Islamic art, Amer and Farkhondeh’s creations reference several facets of the Islamic tradition through their use of stylized figures, a collaborative process, and detailed interpretation of female body.

    In Kiss Cross, the watercolor background of linear motifs with abstracted trees and the intricate embroidery of two figures are carefully layered to evince the individual skill of each artist. While Amer and Farkhondeh work in tandem, each artist is responsible for one medium in their separate locales. This collaboration, creating a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts, reflects the workshop style of Persianate painting, again referring to aspects of traditional Islamic art with a modern twist.

    Detail of Kiss Cross

    While there are two artists, in Kiss Cross Amer’s work takes precedence and, unlike in the art of Persianate Painting, the artist’s hand is intentionally and extremely visible. Her striking depiction of the female body highlights themes of objectification, sexuality and empowerment. “I liked the idea of representing women through the medium of thread because it is so identified with femininity,” Amer said. “I wanted to ‘paint’ a woman with embroidery, too.”

    In depicting the two bodies, sourced from erotic magazines, Amer does not stay within the perfectionist confines of tradition embroidery but rather uses a loose running stitch, leaving a tangle of lines and hanging threads to better engage the viewer. This sketch-like embroidery paired with Farkhondeh’s cage-like pattern serve to highlight the women’s faces, one of the few portions of the print left bare from color. This emphasis on the faces both serves to humanize rather than objectify the women and draws attention to their intimacy.


  • Friday, February 27, 2015

    Student Picks: Clutter + Collage

    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 Samantha Page '17 discusses her show “Clutter + Collage: Mixed Media on Paper” which will be on view FRIDAY, March 6 from 12-4 PM in the Cunningham Center for the Study of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs. We hope to see you here!

    Anne Ryan, American (1889 - 1954). Collage, no date. Paper and cloth collage with watercolor on heavy textured white wove paper. Gift of Mrs. Alfred H. Barr Jr. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 1979:8-2

    Across medium and aesthetic mood, these works on paper evoke stories and senses through layers, both visual and material. Although we can’t touch Anne Ryan’s tender patchwork or Jiri Kolar’s decoupage, the textures and colors resonate in the mind. The limitations on our interactions with art objects that beg to be touched push us to engage with them in new realms of our imaginations. 

    Jiri Kolar, Czechoslovakian (1914 - 2002). Wine Press, 1967. Paper bits collaged to wood backing and to attached wine press. Gift of Virginia Dwyer Caruthers. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 1995:39

    By creating depth in the layers of materials, as in Qiu Deshu’s Blue Mountain and Reika Iwami’s Autumn, the artists and their works expand our sense of space and bring us to a unique place in which we view each piece of art. 

    Qiu Deshu, Chinese (1948 - ). Blue Mountain, late 1990s. Collage and acrylic on paper. Gift of Joan Lebold Cohen, class of 1954, and Jerome A. Cohen. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 2007:59-8

    Reika Iwami, Japanese (1927 - ). Autumn, 1978. Woodblock and collograph printed in black and metallic ink with embossing on medium thick, slightly textured cream-colored paper. Gift of The Tolman Collection, Tokyo, in honor of Hilary Tolman, class of 1987, on the occasion of her 20th reunion. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 2007:10-4

    The counterintuitive nature of this visual disorder also appeals. The clutter draws us in, as we get lost in the remnants of someone else’s life. If I made a collage like Thomas Barrow’s or Moyra Davey’s, what would it look like? What does the chaos of my life say about my time or me? 

    Thomas Barrow, American (1938 - ). FILMS, 1977. Photolithograph printed in color on paper. Gift of Nicole Moretti Ungar, class of 1982, and Jon Ungar. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 2007:60-27

    Moyra Davey, Canadian (1958 - ). Untitled from 16 Photographs from Paris, 2009. Folded digital c-print with paper tape, postage, and ink. Purchased with the Dorothy C. Miller, class of 1925, Fund. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 2010:19-14

    The fun in creating this exhibition was largely in the diversity of interpretations that we can apply to collage. Every artist brings his or her own ideas and experiences to each creation, ultimately benefitting us as viewers by opening our minds to the wealth of materials, subject matter, and methods that can create something jarring, beautiful, or confusing.

    I hope this exhibition and its strange, funny, and stunning selection of works surprises and inspires viewers. 


    beth fink - 27/02/2015

    Clutter and Collage exhibit

    I am interested in the ideas you have expressed here, Ms Page.
    I especially like the Ann Ryan collage, and I wish I could see the exhibit in person and
    Have a closer look at the layers and textures in these works of art.
    Very interesting collection!

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