July 22–September 11, 2011

Surface Tension Press Release

This student-organized exhibition consists of ten works by 20th-century artists that investigate the physical relationship between water and its surroundings. The focused selection of paintings, prints, and sculpture –mainly by American artists – invites the viewer to carefully explore each work on display.

Several of the objects deal explicitly with the rhythm and texture of water’s surface, finding new ways to elaborate on modern modes of representation. Some transform common perceptions of the substance in order explore its architectural qualities or its surprisingly solid appearance. Others obscure water’s perceivable characteristics or treat it as an invisible, environmental force. Together, these pieces actively avoid contextualizing and symbolizing water, unsettling one’s impulse to create narrative. Instead they challenge the viewer to look carefully and critically – exploring the uneasy space between naturalism and total abstraction.

Students in SIAMS 2011 wish to acknowledge the following individuals and funders:

Suzannah Fabing, founding director Marion Goethals, director; Katy Kline, associate director; Betsy Athens and Jason Vrooman, teaching assistants; and Margi Caplan, David Dempsey, Aprile Gallant, Kelly Holbert, Linda Muehlig, and Ann Musser, SCMA mentors, as well as Jessica Nicoll and the entire staff of SCMA, for their endless support throughout the program and exhibition process.

Smith College is grateful to The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The Brown Foundation, Inc., of Houston, The Samuel H. Kress Foundation, and private donors for their generous contributions.

Image Credit: Susan Heideman (born 1950). Sand Channels, 1985 Oil on canvas. Gift of the family and friends of Mimi Norcross Fisher in her memory, class of 1959. SC 1986:1