May 5, 2020

SMoCA Docents Share Their Favorite Works from the Collection

We asked our docents to reflect on their favorite work of art in the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (SMoCA) Collection. You may have engaged in fun and educational conversations with our docents on Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays. As dedicated volunteers, their passion is to help you discover a meaningful connection to contemporary art.  

Deborah, the current docent president, selected Cheese Grid by The Art Guys as an artwork that really provoked a response. This art stinks, literally!

The Art Guys (Michael Galbreth and Jack Massing), Cheese Grid, 1993. Gifts of the artists. 

You smelled it the moment you walked into the exhibition space—that unmistakable aroma of 600 unwrapped American cheese slices laid out in a grid on the floor. Over time, some of the slices began to warp or dry out, and it always made me smile. The work was a humorous reference to American minimalist artist Carl Andre’s floor sculptures (grids) from the 1960s that were made of more traditional art materials. But even if you didn’t know that little inside art history joke, the work was thought-provoking and amusing. As a docent, I was constantly asked, “Is this really art?”  My answer: “YES. It’s conceptual art—art in which the idea is considered more important than the finished product.” That always led to a great conversation. 

— Deborah, docent

Ellen completed the docent training program in spring 2019. The cerebral and challenging piece that inspired impactful gallery conversations for her is from SMoCA’s current exhibition Unapologetic: All Women, All Year, which is on view through early 2021. 

992: The Dust Behind, 1992
Barbara Penn
Canvas, wood, paint, plaster, wire, child’s shirt frame, decoy, sleve press, tennis press, stereoscope, map, photograph “Secret Society” and found objects
120 x 96 x 96 in.
Gift of the artist 1998.068.ab

My favorite piece is an installation by Barbara Penn that is visually interesting and thought-provoking. There is so much to see and think about! The more you look at the installation, the more you can see and find. People link what they see in this piece to their own knowledge and experiences, and they create meaning for themselves. I’m sure Barbara Penn intended this thoughtful process to take place in viewers as they engage with 992: The Dust Behind. Even the title sparks questions. Did you know that Barbara Penn was inspired by the life and work of Emily Dickinson?  

— Ellen, docent

Now we encourage you to explore SMoCA’s online collection.

Which artwork speaks to you? Which artwork brings back fond memories of a visit to the Museum? Which work sparks new questions about contemporary art to challenge our docents when we reconnect?  

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