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A woman sitting on a stoop gestures in this black and white photograph.

Collection Spotlight: Lisette Model

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Can a photograph capture a personality? Lisette Model’s “Lower East Side (woman), New York”  is on her stoop in mid-sentence, gesturing to the passersby below. Model found inspiration on the streets and in the faces of the city’s celebrities, entertainers and average citizens, which she captured candidly in their unguarded moments. To whom do you think she is talking? What kinds of things has she seen and heard?

Years later, Model learned more about her subject. Her granddaughter described her the woman as a loving, Romania-born widow with nine children. She worked day and night at a little store in front of her apartment. The photographer recounted in a 1979 interview how she gifted a copy to the family, who had a party to unveil the photo with family and friends. “People came in and said yes that’s her,” explained Model. “and you see that it is when the real people see it, not other people who will say what kind of a grotesque monster did you photograph here. That was not what I photographed. I knew that this woman was a great personality, and so were many others.”

A woman sitting on a stoop gestures in this black and white photograph.

ca. 1942
Consolidated Medium
Gelatin silver print
Museum purchase with funds provided by William Dunlop Family Foundation
2016.02

A construction worker sits on unfinished stairs.

Collection Spotlight: Chad States

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In June 2020, our collection spotlight explores permanent collection photography. As June is Pride Month, our first selection is a work by American photographer Chad States.

What do you first notice about this person? What details are provided, given the location? The subject met the artist through an online post, seeking people who identify as masculine for personal portraits.

In his series “Masculinities,” States photographed a variety of people in settings and poses that expressed their sense of this concept. One participant, Dex, commented, “I’d say I’m masculine because of how I feel inside, who I am, and how I carry myself. In a lot of ways my masculinity is tied to my male gender role and how I want to project that and be perceived by others.” A transgender man, Dex chose to be photographed in a stereotypically male setting related to construction.

How does this make you think differently about your view of others?

From the 2018 practicum, “Dignity and Diversity: Portraits from the Permanent Collection,” curated by Honors Introduction into Art History students.

A construction worker sits on unfinished stairs.

Dex, 2007
Archival pigment print
Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art, Auburn University; William Dunlop Collection

People voting in segregated booths.

Museums for Equality: Bernice Sims

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Curators highlighted Bernice Sims in “From Her Innermost Self: Visionary Art of Southern Women.” As a non-traditional student, Bernice Sims visited the Montgomery Museum of Art for an art history class trip and regained her childhood passion for painting. There, she discovered the work of Moses Tolliver and visited with the artist in his Montgomery home. Her instructors encouraged her to follow her own painting style as she portrayed her extremely personal memories of the Civil Rights Movement.

Here Sims depicted voters at the polls. In an ever-increasing polarized climate, how are voters divided today? Is it still merely along the lines of race?

People voting in segregated booths.

Untitled (Segregated voting)
Acrylic on canvas
Lent by Micki Beth Stiller

Sims returned to the subject of “Bloody Sunday” often in her work, as she experienced the crossing first hand. What emotions does she convey for this event? Why do you think she painted this moment in history?

Protesters cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge

Selma Bridge
Acrylic on canvas
Lent by Micki Beth Stiller

Sims honored first responders of 9/11, recreating an iconic photograph of hope. Sims passed away in 2014; but what imagery might she have used to address other events, from #BlackLivesMatter to more recent ones like COVID-19?

Bernice Sims - New York Heroes, 2001

New York Heroes, 2001
Acrylic on canvas
Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art, Auburn University; gift of Barb Bondy 2018.22

Collection Spotlight: Selections from the Catfish Press Exchange

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The Catfish Press Exchange folio vividly illustrates contemporary printmaking in the United States. The output of this collective usually remains in the private collections of the artists; but, JCSM greatly benefits from the generosity of donors Joe and Julie Sanders. These selections are striking examples of different printmaking techniques.

The word ”lithography” is derived from the Greek, litho meaning ”stone,” and graphy meaning ”writing.” This technique involves drawing with a greasy crayon on polished limestone or aluminum plates. A chemical solution is applied to bond the drawing to the stone, and then the surface is treated with water that only sticks to the non-greased areas. A special ink, which only adheres to the greased areas, is applied with a roller. The print is then run through a press.

Beauvais Lyons
Plate #345, 2003
Lithograph

The word ”intaglio” comes from the Italian intagliare which means ”to incise or carve.” In this method of printing, the areas that hold the ink are cut into the surface of a metal plate. After the plate is inked, paper is laid on the prepared plate and extreme pressure
is applied, forcing the paper into the incised lines to pick up the ink. There are several different types of intaglio prints such as etching, drypoint and aquatint.

Art Werger
Elements, 2003
Etching

Serigraphy, more commonly known as ”screen printing,” is a stencil-based technique, which uses screens made of fabric or fine mesh stretched over a frame. A chemical solution marks off the areas around the image, blocking the ink from going through the screen. A squeegee is then used to press ink through the open parts of the screen.

Lynwood Kreneck
Master Builder’s Attic, 2003
Serigraph

Relief printing is one of the oldest forms of printmaking dating back as far as c. 4000 BCE. To create a relief print, an artist carves into a material leaving raised areas that hold ink. Paper is laid on top, and pressure is applied with a ”baren,” transferring the image onto paper. Relief prints can be made from a wide range of materials, such as wood (woodcut, wood engraving), linoleum (linocut) and metal (letterpress).

Joe Sanders
The Sky is Falling, 2003
Woodcut

Digital is a general term used for any print that uses digital technology in image creation or printing.

Cima Katz
Reverberations, 2003
Digital collage on paper

Collection Spotlight: Auburn Oak Bowl

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Matt Moulthrop continues a legacy of innovation in woodturning, advancing techniques developed by his grandfather and father, artists Ed and Philip Moulthrop. In partnership with Auburn University, Moulthrop turned this bowl from the sizeable forked section of the Auburn Oaks at Toomer’s Corner. Do you notice the dramatic patterns from where the limbs intersected? He often works with trees that have a meaningful association in people’s minds or unique value to a community.

What significance does Toomer’s Corner hold for you? Does the work of art or woodturning process capture it in some way? What kind of item might you transform into art to preserve a memory or convey a story? Its history?

Auburn Oak Bowl, 2014
Turned wood (Live oak)
Ca. 15 x 26 ½ x 26 ½ inches
Gift of the artist, 2014

“Each tree has a story to tell. Wormholes convey past life, rings communicate growth and certain colors tell the story of death by lightning or blight. My job is to tell the story…lengthening the life of the tree rather than ending it.”

Matt Moulthrop

Earth Day 2020: “Mother Earth as Art”

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In celebration of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, JCSM explored the intersection of art and science with an online gallery talk for “Mother Earth as Art.”

Dr. Chandana Mitra, associate professor, Department of Geosciences, joined host Christy Barlow, curator of education for student and community programs, along with two graduate students who worked on the exhibition: Megha Shrestha, Department of Geosciences, Auburn University
and Nina Zamani Alavijeh, from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

“Alabama Political Reporter” featured an interview with Dr. Mitra and the digital exhibition as a part of its Earth Day 2020 coverage. Read the article.

A ruby-throated hummingbird approaches a cluster of blossoms, with other hummingbirds trapped in the blooms.

Collection Spotlight: Walton Ford

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Things are not as they seem in the charming print, “Limed Blossoms.” Contemporary artist Walton Ford pays homage to John James Audubon’s artistic style, but he also makes a critical statement on man-made threats to the environment.

What do you observe about the ruby-throated hummingbirds sipping nectar from the blossoms? One bird curiously approaches unaware. The others are trapped and lifeless. The title, “Limed Blossoms,” gives us a clue. Audubon and other collectors spread sticky birdlime on twigs and other perches to trap small birds to study, export and trade. Ford uses outdated and unassuming methods to symbolize the human footprint’s destructive impact.

Notice anything in the bottom left corner? Pollution blocks the rosy sunset. Through his artwork, Ford advocates for protecting the environment.

A ruby-throated hummingbird approaches a cluster of blossoms, with other hummingbirds trapped in the blooms.

Color etching and aquatint
Accompanying the limited-edition book Pancha Tantra
Edition: 100
Museum purchase with funds provided by the 1072 Society, 2012

A young girl leans out of a window, looking sad.

Collection Spotlight: Marion Greenwood

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Marion Greenwood, a social realist artist who worked in various mediums, is best known for her murals and work in Mexico.

Ever breaking barriers, she was the first woman to receive a mural commission from a foreign government and was one of two women selected as an artist war correspondent during World War II. Greenwood transferred her “terrific love for human beings and people” into becoming a painter of people focused upon their diversity. She won the Lithography Prize from John Herron Art Institute.

In Greenwood’s lithograph “Waiting,” a young African American girl leans out of a window. Her head rests on her stacked hands. How do you think she feels based on her posture and gaze? What is she thinking?

A young girl leans out of a window, looking sad.

Waiting, ca. 1950
Ink on Paper
Lithograph
9 3/8 x 12 1/2 in.
Museum purchase

Contributed by Leslie Schuneman, curatorial intern

I find that years later after the sieve of time takes place, you really know more about what you want to say personally.

Marion Greenwood
Warm light and shadows move across a book, opened to a picture of a heron.

Collection Spotlight: Jane E. Goldman

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Observe the passing months and seasons in the work of Jane E. Goldman. Cut flowers in glass vases and native plants frame each setting of her intricate prints. Patterned shadows dance on table cloths, floor tiles and opened books featuring images from John James Audubon’s “Birds of America.” Goldman works in various media, with her style described as “lyrical realism.” In her words, she is “looking inwards to depict incorporeal works of imagination that can’t be seen by observation.”

What seasonal elements can you sense by looking at “Audubon June?” The page in the book subtly moves, perhaps partially propped up by the chilled water glass or a burst of breeze. How does the reproduction of Audubon’s work blend into the scene? The branches in the upper right give partial coverage to the blue heron at the water’s edge.

Warm light and shadows move across a book, opened to a picture of a heron.

“Audubon June,” 2004
16-color screen print
Edition: 53/64
18 x 26 inches (image)
Gift of Lynn Barstis Williams Katz and Burton Katz

A melon baller and bottle opener posed as people; a glove with two fingers walking

Collection Spotlight: Janet Nolan

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Everything from squashed aluminum cans to plastic packaging finds its way into the work of Janet Nolan (B.V.A., 1968). As a young girl in Montgomery, Alabama she absorbed the aesthetic of repurposing objects into new contexts from a beloved uncle who reconstructed ”everyday broken things into useful objects; like old metal coffee pots into lamps with colander shades.”

Inspired by Louise Bourgeois’ feminist perspective and Robert Rauschenberg’s assemblages, Nolan began sculpting with broken umbrellas she collected from Manhattan streets after a thunderstorm in 1976. Nolan’s art-colorful, playful and thought-provoking has been exhibited at universities, art centers, galleries, museums and corporate headquarters across the nation. Cheerfully, Nolan asks us to shift our expectations of redemption, recycling, rescue and revival.

A melon baller and bottle opener posed as people; a glove with two fingers walking

(L to R)

I Do, 1995
Kitchen utensils, glass case, painted wood
Gift of the artist’s estate

Cruella, 2000
Fur and suede glove, wood base,
glass dome
Gift of the artist’s estate

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