Thursday, July 8, 2021

Smith College Museum of Art, "An Imposing Number of Times", by Amanda Williams is inspired by student-made Black Lives Matter banners. On displat now!

Northampton, MA—July 6, 2021: Two black-and-white banners by artist Amanda Williams have been unfurled on the Elm Street and campus-facing facades of the Smith College Museum of Art (SCMA). The banners represent the first part of Williams’ An Imposing Number of Times, a series of site-specific campus installations commissioned by the museum. Further installations are scheduled for fall 2021 and spring 2022.
The banners’ design and composition were inspired by student-made Black Lives Matter banners displayed on several residential houses on campus. First created by Smith students in 2017 and redone each fall, the house banners prompted Williams to reflect on language and self-determination at Smith College, a place where campus traditions and the house system play a large role in student life. Williams built the abstract composition of her banners emphasizing the texture, materiality and painterly qualities of the house banners. In one of her banners, Williams layers six words over details of three faded house banners. It reads: “live / matterful / black / lives / allies / matter.”
According to Williams, “Unfolding over space and time, An Imposing Number of Times transforms the legibility of the glyphs of the handmade BLM banners into something unrecognizable as a means of establishing their potency and liberatory potential.
“The meaning of the phrase ‘Black Lives Matter’ seems straightforward at first, yet it is elusive, ephemeral and shifting. The recitation, fragmentation and deconstruction of this phrase and its physical presence on campus via a series of installations will produce a collective bearing witness to how Blackness is navigated and valued in the specific institutional context of Smith.”

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