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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.

  • Thursday, October 3, 2013

    Eye on the Street: Joel Meyerowitz

    Joel Meyerowitz. American, born 1938. St. Louis (long series of outdoor steps, figures on top),1977. Vintage chromogenic contact print. Gift of Nicole Moretti Ungar, class of 1982, and Jon Ungar. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 2011:71-138.

    “[These photographs] are about my inner connections. I’m bringing my whole life to bear on that split second… These pictures are signs that you came to consciousness for a brief second in the flow of your life, which is so overloaded with stimuli that it can drive you away from concentration.” - Joel Meyerowitz

    In the early 1960s, Joel Meyerowitz suddenly gave up his career as an advertising art director to take photographs on the New York City streets. While at first Meyerowitz shot both black and white and color film, in 1972 he made the unconventional decision to devote himself exclusively to color photography. Recognizing its unique capability to convey the experience of perceived light, Meyerowitz would become a persistent advocate for and master of color photography, which was most often associated with advertising until the 1970s.

    This bold new direction led Meyerowitz to spend the summers of 1976 and 1977 in Provincetown, MA, where he created his first innovative color series, Cape Light. Working in a slow-paced environment allowed Meyerowitz to retire his hand-held 35mm camera in favor of a large-format camera and tripod which is more stable and suitable for shooting with sensitive color film. The novel and transformative experience of photographing his quiet, peaceful surroundings drastically altered the character of his subsequent urban street photography. Meyerowitz abandoned his prior active and “gestural” approach, in which he created images full of people and motion, and instead made subtle and contemplative studies of natural light in urban landscapes.

    Joel Meyerowitz. American, born 1938. St. Louis (building with bricked-in garage doors),1977. Vintage chromogenic contact print. Gift of Nicole Moretti Ungar, class of 1982, and Jon Ungar. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 2011:71-139.

    Joel Meyerowitz. American, born 1938. Empire State (Fowler-Williams),1978. Vintage chromogenic contact print. Gift of Nicole Moretti Ungar, class of 1982, and Jon Ungar. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 2011:71-122.

    In his series St. Louis and the Arch (1977) and Empire State (1978), Meyerowitz proves that beauty can even be found in such mundane places as a parking garage or loading dock. He presents these overlooked city scenes with a keen eye for the expressive nuances of light and shadow, yet Meyerowitz retains what he calls the “street wit” of his earlier work. For instance, the iconic Empire State Building appears in every Empire State series photograph, yet the tallest building in New York is so overshadowed by the arresting beauty the rest of the scene that it may go completely unnoticed. Meyerowitz’s photographs teach us to look slowly, carefully, and deeply at our surroundings in order to make a connection with a particular place or moment in time, as he does in his work: “It may be the slant of the light, it may even be a smell, something not visible; you may feel yourself rooted to the spot where suddenly there’s a smell of salt water mixed with roses, and it’s got your number. At that moment you know, ‘I’m alive. Here, now.’”

    These and other photographs by Joel Meyerowitz, Garry Winogrand,and Danny Lyonare currently on view in Eye on the Street: Trends in 1960s and 1970s Photographyat SCMA until October 6, 2013. Catch Eye on the Street before it closes this weekend!

    Joel Meyerowitz. American, born 1938. Empire State (Yale Trucking),1978. Vintage chromogenic contact print. Gift of Nicole Moretti Ungar, class of 1982, and Jon Ungar. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 2012:84-47.


  • Thursday, September 26, 2013

    Announcing the 2013-2014 Student Picks Winners

    The Student Picks Sweepstakesended last Friday, and we’ve found our six winners!

    Student Picks gives students the chance to curate their own one-day exhibitions of works on paper in the Cunningham Center for Prints, Drawings and Photographs.Six lucky students are chosen by lottery as part of a campus-wide sweepstakes that takes place each September.

    Student Picks ballot box in the Museum Lobby, one of five locations around campus where students could enter the contest.

    This year, we collected over one thousand ballots from the ballot boxes around campus, with entries from 271 students – that’s over ten percent of Smith's student body trying to win their own exhibition!

    Jessica Nicoll, director of the Museum, came by the Cunningham Centerthis past Monday to pick our six winners and two alternates.

             Museum Director Jessica Nicoll picks another student curator from the bucket.

    So, without further ado, this year’s Student Picks winners are ...

              November 1, 2013 – Amelia Yeoh Jia Min ‘17

              December 6, 2013 – Meredith Shanoski ‘16

              February 7, 2014 – Kenny Clarke ‘17

              March 7, 2014 – Khadejeh Al-Rijleh ‘16

              April 4, 2014 – Marion Gajonera ‘14

              October 3, 2014 - Lingxuan Li ‘17

    Congratulations to the 2013-14 winners, and keep tuned for their upcoming exhibitions!

                                         A rainbow of winning Student Picks ballots

             "Best pop culture reference on a ballot" definitely goes to Paulina Wake SC '15

    Speaking of Student Picks news, the first student exhibition of the year is fast approaching. Mina Zahin ’15 will present her show “Praying in a Lucid Dream” from 1-4PM on October 11 (the same day as this month’s free Second Friday)Her show will delve into psychedelic art, mystic understanding and the posters of Peter Max.


  • Thursday, September 19, 2013

    Student Picks Highlights

    The Student Picks Sweepstakes ends tomorrow, September 20, and soon six students will win the chance to curate their own exhibitions in the Cunningham Center for the Study of Prints, Drawings and Photographs. To celebrate the new year of student exhibitions, we’re highlighting pictures and blog posts from past Student Picks shows.

    If you could get your hands on the art at the Museum, what would you do? For the past six years, Smith students have answered this question with one-day art exhibitions, through the Student Picks exhibition program. Each month, one student curator has the opportunity to organize an exhibition in the Cunningham Center for the Study of Prints, Drawings and Photographs,using art that intrigues, excites and inspires her.

    Visitors check out last year's show Between the Lines: Image and Prose in the 20th Century Avant-Garde,curated by Leah Santorine SC '13. Photography by Julie Warchol.

    A visitor looks closely at art from Between the Lines.Photography by Julie Warchol.

    Students from all majors and departments have become curators through Student Picks. Some have years of art history classes under their belts, while others have never set foot in a museum before. What all our student curators share is enthusiasm and a fresh perspective on the collection of over 13,000 works on paper in the Cunningham Center for the Study of Prints, Drawings and Photographs.

    Amanda Garcia SC '16 focused on French fashion in her show, From Tissot to Toulouse-Lautrec - Fashion Focus in 19th-century French Art.Photography by Julie Warchol.

    As Lori E. Harris SC AC '11, who curated the show Women, Woodblock Prints and Words,put it: “Student Picks is a unique and progressive concept. I would argue that it is one of the few programs on campus that brings together students from every discipline and gives them an opportunity to integrate their academic interest with art.”

    Suzu Sakai ’16 displayed her own handmade miniature kimonos alongside Japanese prints in her show Beauty by Design - The Art of Japanese Kimono.Photography by Julie Warchol.

    Japanese prints featuring kimonos from Beauty By Design.Photography by Julie Warchol.

    The lottery for Student Picks ends tomorrow, September 20. If you want to be one of the six student curators this year, it’s your last chance to enter your name in the ballot boxes found in Neilson Library, Young Library, Hillyer Library, the Museum Lobby and the lower level of the Campus Center.