February Student Picks Show: ‘Time and Space’

Laura Green ’18
Staff Writer

Anna Saunders ’17J was one of six names pulled out of a big red bucket of 2000 names at the beginning of last semester. After only putting her name into the drawing once, Saunders was chosen to curate this month’s Student Picks show, a program by the Smith College Museum of Art which allows students from any class year and major to put on a one-day exhibition of works from the Cunningham Center’s collection of works on paper. The experience was daunting yet exciting for Saunders, whose show was on display Feb. 5.

Saunders’s exhibit, entitled “Time and Space,” focused on what life is like in the modern age, with an emphasis on vivid photographs from the 1960s through the 2000s. There seemed to be juxtaposition between private and public life, between shared and personal spaces. Many of the photos featured women and consumer goods such as magazines, newspapers and dolls. A disposable Kodak camera even made an appearance. Most surprising, though, was a photograph by Lauren Greenfield of “Fetus Bingo,” which was taken at a high school for expecting mothers.

Saunders, whose mother was at the show to support her, says her major in government influenced her because she’s “always been interested in pop culture, and pop culture is never really separate from politics.” Her favorite piece was a photograph of a stack of newspapers by Moyra Davey, a contemporary Canadian artist. Saunders was not previously familiar with the artists whose work she exhibited, but she said she felt as if she was “dipping my toes back into what the museum has to offer and how much I love it.” She grew up going to museums and felt that this experience reminded her of an old interest.

Another of her favorites was a close-up of Jennifer Lopez, with paparazzi and bright flashbulbs going off in the background from Lauren Greenfield’s series “Girl Culture.” Saunders loved that it was a different type of image of the celebrity because you “see her in a certain moment.” The exhibit included several other pieces from “Girl Culture,” which explores what it meant to be a young woman in the ’90s and early 2000s. It captured America’s shift into the next millennium, which was one of the themes of the “Time and Space” exhibit.

Saunders’s favorite part about curating the show was looking through the Cunningham Center’s collection, which was “like opening a chest of toys.” She said it was a fun process and exposed her to the wonderful resources of the Center. She said, “you don’t have to win to access these materials,” because anyone can make an appointment to see works in the Cunningham Center’s collection.

Saunders said she felt that the hardest part was coming up with the title. She arrived at “Time and Space” because she wanted to leave the interpretation of the show open-ended. In her description of the exhibit, she wrote, “the divergent subjects of these photos capture halted moments that are stalled within the context of time and space at which they were taken.” The exhibit had a rich variety of photographs and prints, all beautiful and meaningful on their own and together. The images, many of them candid, showed the daily lives of modern people. This exploration of the ordinary is what made the exhibit fascinating.

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