15 April 2008

Smith at the intersection of Kennedy and Land

My mother was an art history major at Smith. The long-tenured professor in the department was a renaissance man, one Clarence Kennedy. In addition to his scholarly interest in Greek and Italian Renaissance sculpture, Kennedy was a photographer and a friend of Edwin Land. Land, of course, was the inventor of the Polaroid camera - but Clarence Kennedy was the man who coined the name "Polaroid" for his friend.

In 1956, my mother took a photography class with Kennedy, using Polaroid Pathfinder cameras that had been donated by Polaroid to the college.

Each week they took instant pictures, exploring various themes to capture motion or pattern or emotion. At the end of the semester, she created a portfolio: small horizontal pages in a little ring binder, a photo or two on every other sheet. That portfolio has always resided in my mother's living room, along side the albums of baby pictures, her college yearbooks, scrapbooks of family vacations, and coffee-table-type art books.

Last weekend, one of her college classmates was visiting, and in the course of the afternoon, the portfolio was brought out. They flipped through it together and talked of Smith and about two other classmates who appeared as models – one of them became an EMT, the other lives in Pennsylvania. Later that day, I took the portfolio upstairs and scanned the whole thing. If I get my act together, I may "publish" it as a Blurb book. In the meantime, here are some of my favorite pages from the portfolio.

Self Portrait:

Possibilities of the Film:

Design:

Emotion:

Motion:

Pattern:

17 comments:

Queen Goob said...

FABULOUS....my favorite photographic medium is B/W - this makes me want to scan some of my old stuff.

Love the stairs in shadow - very Hitchcock.

the dragonfly said...

I thought of Hitchcock when I saw the shadowy stairs too!

Wonderful pictures. I hope I get to take a photography class someday; I love to take pictures, but I'd like to learn more about composition and light and such.

Thanks for sharing!!

FreshHell said...

Beautiful. Love black and white. My dad is a photographer (as a hobby) and took a gazillion photos in b/w when I was a kid. He turned the extra bathroom into a dark room (of sorts) and exposed his own film. Wish I had that talent with a camera.

MadMad said...

Wow - that is way cool, to have something like that of your mom's. And they are great, too!

Mental P Mama said...

Oh, please publish it...'twill be a best seller.

Nap Warden said...

Wonderful find!

Janet said...

Those are absolutely gorgeous! I love the one of the woman throwing her hands in the air! Thanks for sharing :-)

niobe said...

Wow.

Beck said...

Neat - and what an interesting idea to make it into a Blurb book.

Kyddryn said...

These are lovely...I do hope we see more of them!

Shade and Sweetwater,
K

Victoria said...

LOVE these! Hope to see more!

alejna said...

Those are wonderful, striking photos. How great that she had that experience, and has the book as a memento.

Mayberry said...

Wow, I missed this the first time around -- lovely. I thought polaroids deteriorated over time?

painted maypole said...

great shots! :)

Emily said...

Beautiful.

Thanks for sharing those.

That first pic reminded me that I REALLY need to get my eyebrows waxed!

Julia said...

Wow is right. These are beyond impressive.
I am also pretty impressed she was able to take that self-shot. I was playing around trying to get something like that with my new camera and I just couldn't get my eye to not look much smaller and squintier than what I see in a mirror.

Melanie said...

Oh, what a treasure. I love, love, love these, right down to the carefully typed titles.

"Self-portrait" and "Emotion" are my faves.