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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.

  • Tuesday, August 23, 2011

    Introducing Student Picks

    Student Picks is SCMA’s student exhibition program. Each year, seven students are selected by lottery to organize individual monthly exhibitions using the collection of prints, drawings and photographs. Exhibitions are held in the Cunningham Center from 12 - 4 on the first Friday of the month during the academic year.

    Student Picks allows students to engage with works of art from a perspective that isn’t necessarily art historical—they simply follow their enthusiasm through the collection, and what they come up with is always exciting and often extraordinary. Our students help us see the collection fresh, through new eyes; they light on objects we rarely use or pair works we never would have thought of pairing. 

    Stay tuned for posts from our Student Picks curators on creating their own art exhibition! For now, you can read more about Student Picks on the website, on the Grécourt Gate, and in the Sophian.  And take a look at these pictures from last year's Student Picks exhibitions.  This should get you geared up to enter the lottery yourself this academic year!!!  Ballot boxes will start appearing around campus on September 5.  (Ready, get set, GO!)

    Guests mingle at Yollian DaSilva ‘13’s October exhibition “Perspectives in Theater, Perspectives on Theater” - the first of the academic year!

    Kendyll Gage-Ripa ‘12’s December exhibition “Who Is She Really?: Interrogating Representations of the Female Body”

    Nellie Knox ’11 and her family at her February exhibition “Advertising in Art”

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  • Monday, August 15, 2011

    In Praise of Books

    I love books. I came from a “bookish” family: people who hoarded and treasured books and spent more time reading than speaking. In college, I adopted a second major in English simply to provide an excuse to read more literature. Like many English majors, I sought a job in publishing after graduation, and luckily ended up in the Department of Publication and Sales at the Whitney Museum of American Art. There I learned that I loathed publishing but loved art. It was also there that my love of books as literature morphed into a fascination with books as visual art. At first I channeled this into a mania for book arts, taking as many classes as I could afford in letterpress, book conservation, and hand-book binding at the Center for Book Arts in New York. To my dismay, I was terrible at it: it is hard to imagine a future as a bookbinder when you can’t cut a straight line, even using a board cutter.

    I still firmly believe that all books, to some degree, are works of visual art; even the most mundane book communicates through visual means: typeface, leading (the space between lines), page size, margins, paper, binding; not to mention any cover art—all these elements are deliberately selected to create specific visual meaning that adds to the personal experience that is reading a book.

    SCMA has a wonderful small collection of livres d’artiste: French artist’s books created between the 19th and 20th centuries where image and text are integrated. My very favorite among these books is Toulouse-Lautrec’s Yvette Guilbert. Even if one cannot read French, it is easy to get a sense of the life of the eponymous cafe singer as she shops, dresses, and performs, as well as that of turn-of-the-century Paris. The images, printed in a soft olive green seep into the text (which is printed in the same color) creating a unified visual whole that pulls the viewer both into and through the book.

     

    Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. French, 1864-1901. Yvette Guilbert, 1894. Lithographs printed in olive green on ivory laid Arches paper. Printed by Edward Ancourt (lithographs) and Frémont (typography). Published by L'Estampe Original [Andre Marty]. Copy 34 from a numbered edition of 100. Gift of Selma Erving, class of 1927

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  • Monday, August 8, 2011

    Smith Tours: Girl Power

    Education Department Intern Maggie Kean '14 writes about a tour she led in the Cunningham Center for Smith students.

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

    On March 25, the first of a series of museum tours geared toward college students was rolled out for a small focus group of Smithies in order to get a feel for the students’ response to this new idea. The tour, entitled “Girl Power,” is a theme-based guided tour designed to generate discussions about art and imagery that are relevant to students’ lives. Here at Smith College we are known for our commitment to the empowerment of women. Our administrators, educators, and students all strive to embody a sense of acceptance and outward confidence. The question that this tour focuses on is how this mentality manifests itself in the artworks that the Smith College Museum of Art acquires. The discussion touches on a number of varying perspectives on womanhood and what exactly it means to be an empowered woman. Half of the tour takes place in the main galleries, while the other half is held in the Cunningham Center. For this particular tour the featured works on paper were: “Do Women Have to Be Naked to Get Into the Met Museum?,” a print by the Guerrilla Girls; and a photograph by Lauren Greenfield: “Sarah, 19, Walks Down the Street.” Some of the issues the students touched upon were sexism in the art world, feminism, body image and self-confidence, and the idea of taking advantage of beauty vs. brains. The students were particularly enthusiastic about how these various factors combine to make an ‘intimidating woman’ and how that was reflected in the artworks.

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