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Smith Exhibits Shine During Inauguration

Although Carol Tecla Christ assumed the presidency of Smith College on June 1, 2002, it wasn’t until October 19 that she was officially inaugurated as the 10th president. The festive installation ceremony took place in the college’s Indoor Track and Tennis Facility before some 4,000 guests. At Christ’s request, her inauguration celebrated the wealth of achievements, intellectual life and other unique assets that distinguish Smith.

Portraits, plant spirals and rare books were on display last fall in honor of Carol T. Christ’s inauguration. Embodied in the nine exhibitions, free and open to the public, were the ideals of strong leadership, innovative research and creative thinking that characterize a Smith education.

For example, portraits of the women who have served as presidents at Smith hung in the Alumnae House living room, selections from the art department’s print workshop were on view in the Oresman Gallery of the just-opened Brown Fine Arts Center and rare artifacts woven from silk on Jacquard looms highlighted the Northampton Silk Project, a research project led by Smith faculty.

An installation featuring the new president’s favorite books from 19th-century English literature occupied the Morgan and Book Arts galleries of Neilson Library. Christ and her husband, Paul Alpers, also a scholar of English literature, chose the selections for display, including 22 rare editions of 16 books assembled by Martin Antonetti, Smith curator of rare books. Among the favorites were Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll, a first edition; Oscar Wilde’s Salome: A Tragedy in One Act, with illustrations by Aubrey Beardsley; and the first-edition of Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus, by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley.

Still on exhibit through March, Plant Spirals: Beauty You Can Count On is a unique display that is the result of collaboration between Smith’s Botanic Garden and math department. The inaugural exhibition is in the Church Gallery of the newly renovated Lyman Conservatory and illustrates how the spiral, as found in sunflowers, pinecones, on pineapples and in leaves, petals and other botanical growths, twists and weaves through the plant in perfect patterns.

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