A special exhibition at the University of California, Santa Cruz, displays the creativity, intelligence, and courage of Eloise Picard-Smith (1921-1995) on the centenary of her birth.
The exhibition, which is now taking place in Eloise Pickard Smith Gallery On campus, it runs until December 11th. Collecting artifacts that tell the story of her involvement in art, her personal and family life, and her many professional accomplishments, the exhibition, “A Remarkable Woman: Eloise Pickard Smith,” presents a collection of Smith’s visions and interests.
Curator Tauna Coulson’s most important goal in this exhibition is to inspire UCSC students with Smith’s story.
“I wanted them to see what someone had achieved with her voice,” Coulson said. “For me that’s the most important part of the exhibition – about teaching through art.”
Coulson was referring to one of Smith’s most memorable accomplishments – the California Prison Arts Project, which provides inmates with access to education and art materials and, in Smith’s words, given them a benefit “That mysterious, life-enhancing process we call the arts, a world in which patient application and vibrant imagination often produce magic.”
The William James Society now runs the Prison Art Project, which has loaned several pieces of artwork to display in the gallery.
Putting this exhibition together was a learning experience for Coulson.
“I didn’t really realize how much she has done for anyone in her path, and how much energy she has put into making art available to everyone and especially those who have had the most difficult times exposure to art, including prison inmates,” she said. “What also struck me was her utter determination to improve the university and society as a whole.
Smith’s work in providing technical access to prison inmates foreshadows the important scholarship currently unfolding at UC Santa Cruz on prison and social justice. An ongoing public grant initiative called Visualizing Abolition, implemented through the UC Santa Cruz Institute of Arts and Sciences, is designed to promote creative research and transform social engagement with prisons through art and education. at recent days Received nearly $2 million grant From the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Those who spend time at the Eloise Pickard Smith Gallery will get a strong sense of its allure and lasting impact. “The show evokes the whole person,” Coulson said.
The gallery space contains examples of her artwork, her dining room, ephemera, a timeline of her life, and quotes on the walls.
This idea is the brainchild of Quayle College Provost Alan Christie, associate professor of history at UCLA and co-director of the Center for the Study of Pacific War Memories.The exhibition touches on Smith’s many interests – she has been, among other things, an accomplished gardener and mother of four – with an interest in her life and work as an activist. Smith helped stop a nuclear power plant being proposed for the North Davenport area in the early 1970s, sparking enthusiastic community debate and citizen groups that rallied to oppose the massive project.
As part of that successful opposition, Coulson said, “Eloise Pickard Smith went door to door, went to all the people with the money, and attended meetings in Sacramento—unstoppable.” “I created flyers and hand-delivered them in all mailboxes about how the plant is destroying the environment and how dangerous the proposal is. I searched through online news archives and came across one article that has her picture front and center along with the bumper stickers she made. Where does anyone find her energy?”
Smith also had a long history with the University of California, Santa Cruz before it opened in 1965. She was the wife of Page Smith, the founding dean of Quayle College who joined the faculty in 1964, helping to shape the educational mission of the campus. They were married for 53 years and died within two days of each other.
The Eloise Pickard Smith Gallery is open Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from noon to 5 p.m., and Thursdays from noon to 7 p.m., and will be closed November 25, 26, and 27 for the Thanksgiving holiday.)