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News & Events for the Smith College Community
Smith Arts March 4, 2019

Art and Action on ‘Plastic Entanglements’

Viewers standing around sculpture by Aurora Robson
Photo by Lynne Graves for SCMA

The Smith College Museum of Art’s newest exhibition, “Plastic Entanglements: Ecology, Aesthetics, Materials,” tells the sometimes worrying story of our past, present and future engagements with plastic.

From drawings and photographs to sculptures made from different kinds of plastic, the artworks draw viewers in with their otherworldly beauty before revealing a trail of environmental degradation.

But that’s not where the experience ends. A series of exhibition-related programs, including field trips and talks by activists and artists, offers visitors a way to bridge the gap between awareness and action.

“This show can be heavy and represents a lot of big challenges,” says Maggie Newey, associate director of academic programs and public education at the SCMA. “We wanted some outlet in the programming where people could—even symbolically—take some action.”

“Plastic Entanglements” and its featured works of artists from all over the world offered opportunities for collaborating with students, faculty and Smith centers such as the Center for the Environment, Ecological Design and Sustainability, Newey says.

Highlights of the exhibition-related schedule include:

“Plastic Pollution: Art to Action”
Featured artist and activist Dianna Cohen will discuss her role as founder of the Plastic Pollution Coalition, and how the organization’s global mission connects to her work as an artist on Thursday, March 7,  at 5 p.m. in Weinstein Auditorium.

“Neo-traditionalism and the Eco-ethics of the African Feminist”
Featured artist Ifeoma U. Anyaeji explains her “plasto-yarning” technique—a neo-traditional spin on hair-braiding practices from Nigeria—in conversation with cultural studies scholar Chelsea Mikael Frazier on Tuesday, March 26, at 5 p.m. in Graham Auditorium.

Community Day
The SCMA is teaming up with the Connecticut River Conservancy for a half-day Mill River clean-up from 9 to 11 a.m. on Saturday, April 6. Members of the campus and local communities can sign up to volunteer to collect trash along the river; transportation will be provided. From 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., the SCMA will host an afternoon of performances and art-making. In collaboration with the Campus School, Holyoke STEM Academy and Enchanted Circle Theater. This event includes a food truck!

“The Bagshare Project—Creative Reuse in Action”
This installation, on display from March 8 to April 8 in the Campus Center’s Nolen Art Lounge, tells the story of the 2007 reusable bag initiative that artist and printmaker Leni Fried launched in Cummington, Massachusetts, and the volunteers who have made more than 30,000 reusable bags. Participants can contribute to the project by joining a bag-making workshop on Saturday, April 6, as part of Community Day.

“Plastic Entanglements” will be on view at SCMA through July 28. A complete list of exhibition-related programs is available online.