Smith College Museum of Art hosts two public talks

By STEVE PFARRER

Staff Writer

Published: 03-19-2023 11:01 AM

NORTHAMPTON — The Smith College Museum of Art (SCMA) is hosting two public talks that will examine some diverse subjects, from art and culture of North Africa to a look at how incarcerated people create art.

On Wednesday, Abdessamad El Montassir, an artist-in-residence at the college, will discuss his work in photography and film that explores questions of memory, trauma, and the environment in North Africa, particularly in the Sahara Desert.

A native of Morocco who now divides his time between France and Western Sahara, El Montassir is a multidisciplinary artist whose work also considers poetry, artifacts, plants, and architecture in North Africa; one project examines communities of slaves and Haratins (literally “second group of free people”) in the region.

His presentation, at 5:30 p.m. in the Carroll Room at the college’s Campus Center, will include excerpts from some of his recent film projects, followed by conversation and audience questions with Smith student Brooklyn Quallen, 2025, and Emma Chubb, SCMA’s curator of contemporary art.

And on March 29, SCMA will host a presentation by Dr. Nicole R. Fleetwood, a writer, curator, and art critic whose 2020 book, “Marking Time,” won a National Book Critics Circle Award for its study of incarcerated people in the United States making art.

Fleetwood, a MacArthur Grant winner and a New York University professor of media, culture, and communication, based her book on interviews with currently and formerly incarcerated artists, prison visits, and her own family’s experiences with the U.S. penal system.

“Marking Time,” which was also named a Smithsonian Book of the Year, shows hows “the imprisoned turn ordinary objects into elaborate works of art,” according to press notes.

“The beauty in these often painful images … powerfully reclaims the visual idea of what it means to be imprisoned,” the New York Times Book Reviews says.

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Fleetwood’s talk, which is part of an endowed Smith program called The Miller Lecture in Art and Art History, takes place at 5:30 p.m. in Weinstein Auditorium in Wright Hall. The event will also be livestreamed at https://go.oncehub.com/MillerLectureDrNicoleFleetwoodonArtinthe.

Steve Pfarrer can be reached at spfarrer@gazettenet.com.

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