Surface Tension: Reconsidering Water as Subject
July 22 - September 11, 2011
“Surface Tension: Reconsidering Water as Subject” is the culminating exhibition for the 2011 Summer Institute in Art Museum Studies (SIAMS) at Smith College. 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.
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