Paper Light Photographs by Claudia Smigrod

Curated by Wendy A. Grossman
January 29–May 22, 2022
Presented by the Alper Initiative for Washington Art

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Read the exhibition catalog online, featuring essays by Wendy Grossman, Kaitlin Booher, and Jake Dingman. Purchase during open hours or by emailing $15 each plus taxes and shipping, if applicable.

Claudia Smigrod’s “Paper Light” – February 17, 2022


Photographer Claudia Smigrod and curator Wendy A. Grossman discussed Smigrod’s current American University Museum exhibition “Paper Light,” on view in spring 2022.

Untitled from the series Under Study, 2012.

Untitled from the series Under Study, 2012. Unique candescent print on silver gelatin paper, 24 x 20 in. Collection of the artist.

Negative of a person with text over their face

Liner Notes from the series Conversations, 2020. Unique silver gelatin photograph, photogram toned with light, 20 x 16 in. Courtesy of the artist.

Paper Light #3

Paper Light #3, 2015. Unique silver gelatin photograph, photogram toned with light, 14 x 11 in. Courtesy of the artist.

With her inventive darkroom experiments, Claudia Smigrod takes the cameraless photogram into new realms that defy easy categorization. Organic forms from nature and inorganic manmade objects are magically transformed into abstract, incandescent, and deceptively complex images that are visually mesmerizing and conceptually compelling. This exhibition brings together several serial projects in which the artist has been immersed over the past decade: Paper Light, Under Study, Paper Patterns, Time and Space, Conversations, Opacity/Translucency, and the Letter Press Series, including Proof Print and Every Thing.


About the Artist

Claudia Smigrod is Professor Emerita, Corcoran College of Art & Design, Washington, DC, where she taught from 1982 to 2016. Currently, she is the Edwin P. Conquest ’14 Chair at Virginia Military Institute, Lexington, Virginia (2016-present). Additionally, she has been a Visiting Professor, University of Georgia Studies Abroad Program, Cortona, Italy, (1999-2019), Visiting Assistant Professor, Swarthmore College, (2003), and served as Photography Juror, Fulbright Program, Institute of International Education Graduate Program, (2015-2016 & 2017-2018). The recipient of numerous awards and fellowships, she has held a number of artist residencies, including the Virginia Center for Contemporary Art, Amherst, Virginia (2014, 2019, and 2021), and Auvillar, France (August 2016). Smigrod was the 2017 Slow Exposures Artist-in-Residence, Zebulon, Georgia. Her solo exhibition Paradigm Shift was featured at the Orlando Museum of Art (2011). Smigrod’s photographs are included in the collections of the National Gallery of Art, Library of Congress, Smithsonian American Art Museum, National Museum of Women in the Arts, Chrysler Museum, The Polaroid Collection, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Comune di Cortona (Italy), Greenville County Museum of Art, American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center, Georgia Power, and The United States Information Agency, among others.

About the Curator

Independent scholar Wendy A. Grossman, PhD is an art historian, writer, educator, and curator affiliated with The Phillips Collection and The University of Maryland, College Park. She has lectured internationally and published widely on topics in the history of photography, twentieth-century European and American Modernisms, the intersections between non-Western and Western art, Dada, Surrealism, contemporary art, and the artist Man Ray. Her essays have appeared in edited volumes, exhibition catalogs, and international journals such as Modernism/modernity, Smithsonian Journal of American ArtVisual Resources, Journal of Surrealism in the Americas, Les Cahiers du Musée national d’art moderne and Photographica. Her publications include the award-winning catalog, Man Ray, African Art and the Modernist Lens (2009)which accompanied the multi-venue exhibition she organized. She is currently an Andrew Mellon Senior Fellow at the Metropolitan Museum of Art advancing her research on the Guadeloupean dancer and model Adrienne Fidelin, the first Black woman to be featured in a major international American fashion magazine. Grossman’s research recovers Fidelin’s overlooked life story within narratives of the Parisian interwar avant-garde, Surrealism, and Man Ray.