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Paper + People is a blog about the Smith College Museum of Art’s collection of over 18,000 prints, drawings, and photographs. Here you will find a diverse array of posts written by museum staff, students, scholars, and other paper enthusiasts about anything pertaining to the collection.

Any works you see featured here are available to view by appointment.

  • Wednesday, November 4, 2015

    Student Picks: The Human Spectrum

    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 Amalia Leamon '18  discusses her show "The Human Spectrum" which will be on view FRIDAY, November 6 from 12-4 PM in the Cunningham Center for the Study of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs. We hope to see you here!

    Kristin J. Capp (American, born 1964). Janet Walter on Evening Walk above Lamona Colony, 1995. Gelatin silver print. Gift of Nicole Shearman, class of 1987, and Nicholas Fluehr. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 2001:24-5

    As a psychology major and neuroscience minor with an interest in education, I am interested in how we develop cognitively and emotionally through our vastly different backgrounds and perspectives. In this exhibit I hope to include images that reveal the complexity and fragility of the human condition. 

    Andreas Vesalius (Netherlandish, 1514-1564). Tabulae Selectae, from De Humani Corporis Fabrica, 1543 block, ca. 1934 print. Woodcut printed in black on paper. Gift of Dr. Myra L. Johnson, class of 1931. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 1966:15-30

    What motivates us, what taps into our varied emotional states and how our biology influences our experience are all questions I am interesting in exploring.

    Ken Heyman (American, born 1930). Hip Shots: Woman with curly hair holding sunglasses, New York, 1984. Gelatin silver print. Gift of Nicole Moretti Ungar, class of 1982, and Jon Ungar. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 2011:71-59

    From early anatomical depictions of the human body to contemporary self-portraits, these images shed light on the ability for art to inform science and vice versa in their attempts to illuminate what it is to be human.

    Anne Noggle (American, 1922-2005). Stellar by Starlight, #1, 1985. Gelatin silver print. Purchased. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 1987:10-2a

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  • Thursday, October 29, 2015

    Fighting Injustice on a Cultural Front

    Anna Weston is a Smith College student, class of 2017, and worked at the Cunningham Center this summer.

    This fall, the Smith College Museum of Art is showing an exhibition of second wave feminist artists, among them a group of artists known as Guerrilla Girls. Formed in the early 1980’s, the group consists of anonymous women who wear gorilla masks, a choice that manages to feel both clandestine and brash, to protect their identity (they are artists and do their own work outside of Guerrilla Girls) as well as a device to keep attention away from their personal lives and instead centered on their message and their work.  Each woman goes by a pseudonym, paying homage to earlier female artists such as Kathe Kollwitz and Frida Kahlo, managing to weld the past to the present all while attempting to change the future. Such a disguise seems cohesive with their art which aims to criticize and hold accountable an art world rife with racism, sexism and tokenization.

     

    Guerrilla Girls, American 20th century. The Advantages of Being a Woman Artist, from Guerrilla Girls, Most Wanted 1985 - 2006, 1988. Lithograph printed in black on paper. Purchased with the gift of the Fred Bergfors and Margaret Sandberg Foundation. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 2006:44-5

    Much of Guerrilla Girls art was protest art in the form of poster campaigns in New York City, with particular focus on SoHo and the East Village, where many of the art galleries were located. This piece sarcastically exposes the complex struggle of just existing as a woman artist as well as the near impossibility of making a traditionally successful living.

    As I was pulling these works for the upcoming show, I was particularly struck by the seeming disconnect between the artwork’s message and its form.  The art itself manifests as ephemera (posters, flyers, handouts), much like the zines that would later be associated with second wave punk musician/ feminist Kathleen Hanna. Despite the form however, the Guerrilla Girls make sure their work is snarky and audacious, not hesitating to name names or hand out blame, speaking uncomfortable truths that ultimately lent the art a kind of cultural staying power. Thus perhaps what I had first perceived as disconnected is in fact entirely coherent.

    Guerrilla Girls, American 20th century. Do women have to be naked to get into the Met. Museum? from Guerrilla Girls, Most Wanted 1985 – 2006, 1989. Photolithograph printed in color on paper. Purchased with the gift of the Fred Bergfors and Margaret Sandberg Foundation. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 2006:44-7

    The latest statistics update on the disproportionate amount of work displayed by female artists vs the amount of female bodies on display. The image is a parody of Grande Odalisque, Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres’ famous depiction of a concubine. Paired with the gorilla mask the concubine/female body becomes less of a commodity, less complacent and more active in dictating how women are represented.  Several older versions of this poster exist documenting how little these numbers have changed.

    Perhaps finding such a rich history here, in ephemera, is not so strange. Perhaps it is only logical that these marginalized histories and their critiques exist in works that were first posted on the streets instead of preserved in a museum. Art that was entrusted to the masses instead of a gallery. Art that is audacious, even insolent in order to be heard. Guerilla Girls and their work reject an art world that had never bothered to include them in the first place.

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  • Wednesday, October 21, 2015

    José Luis Cuevas

     

       . . . I’d rather be a writer than a painter. My work is a diary. And I am neither denouncing

         nor sermonizing. I am a simple spectator. The world is a masquerade, all of it subject to

         satire. So I present humanity as it is, modified by circumstances.

     

    José Luis Cuevas (Mexican, 1934–) came of age as an artist during a period of transition in Mexican art and culture. The rise of an international art scene and the changing nature of Pan- American relations played a strong role in the development of his signature subjects and aesthetic. Cuevas and other Mexican expressionist artists who emerged in the 1950s were seen as rejecting the popular nationalism promoted by the “Big Three” Mexican muralists: Diego Rivera, Jose Clemente Orozco, and David Alfaro Siqueiros.

     

    Diego Rivera. Mexican, 1886–1957. Reading Lesson. 1932. Lithograph printed in black on Rives wove paper. Gift of Selma Erving, class of 1927. 1972:50-95

     

    Instead of focusing on a heroic vision of Mexico’s past and present, Cuevas and artists of “La Ruptura” (Rupture) turned their attention toward psychological states and the seamier sides of contemporary life. Their embrace of general themes related to the human condition was viewed as more universal than muralism’s focus on political and social subjects.

     

    Interior, from the Homage to Quevedo Suite. 1969. Lithograph printed in color on Arches wove paper. Gift of Donna Kargman Donaghy, class of 1959, and Walter E. Donaghy. SC 1982:24‑10

     

    When he first made an impact on the international scene with an exhibition at the Pan-American Union in Washington, D.C., in 1954, Cuevas was making grotesque figure drawings based on his observations of people on the margins of society, such as his study for Espagna.

     

    Study for “Espagna.”1961. Pen, ink, wash and collage on paperboard, Gift of the estate of Dr. Heather McClave, class of 1968. SC 1999:57

     

    As the decade progressed, Cuevas began to focus more on literary themes, creating complex and open-ended narratives drawn from his imagination. The Homage to Quevedo suite was inspired by the poetry of the seventeenth-century Spanish poet Francisco Gómez de Quevedo (1580–1645).

    Condicion Humana II, from the Homage to Quevedo Suite. 1969. Lithograph printed in color on Arches wove paper. Gift of Donna Kargman Donaghy, class of 1959, and Walter E. Donaghy. SC 1982:24‑7

     

    Like Cuevas’s art, Quevedo’s poetry was seen as critical of contemporary society; the writer switched easily between high and low art forms. Although none of Cuevas’s scenes are directly based on Quevedo’s writings, the images present a similar dreamlike and satiric quality that enhances the poetic texts.

     

     

    Desfile, from the Homage to Quevedo Suite. April 26, 1969. Lithograph printed in color on Arches wove paper. Gift of Donna Kargman Donaghy, class of 1959, and Walter E. Donaghy. SC 1982:24‑9

     

    SCMA’s prints from Cuevas’s Homage to Quevedo Suite are on view on the Museum’s second floor until January 10, 2016.

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