Sum of Its Parts

20 Elm Street, Northampton MA 01063 (20 Elm Street at Bedford Terrace, Northampton MA 01063)


This installation includes multi-panel photographs, prints, and collages from the SCMA collection made between the 17th and 21st centuries. This selection highlights the long history and many approaches to making modular works of art.

Artists choose to make artworks in multiple parts for a variety of reasons: to convey an expansive sense of space, to tell a story, or put images in conversation with one another. In some cases, materials are a factor: the size of available paper or printing plates can challenge an artist’s ability to make more complex images. Being able to construct an image from individual panels gives artists flexibility.

While many of SCMA’s 24,000 works on paper are accessible for viewing by appointment in the Cunningham Center for the Study of Prints, Drawings and Photographs, multi-panel works present some challenges. Some are large, or have specific display requirements. These conditions make them difficult to be viewed when they are not installed as they were intended: in their totality and in relation to the viewer’s body.