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Alumna gives Smith College $2.5m for curatorship of contemporary art

New York art collector and philanthropist Charlotte Feng Ford gave $2.5 million to her alma mater, Smith College.handout

Generous alums are the best. Just ask administrators at Smith College, which has received a $2.5 million gift from Charlotte Feng Ford to endow a curatorship of contemporary art at the Smith College Museum of Art. Ford, who graduated from the all-women school in Northampton in 1983, is a prominent New York art collector and philanthropist whose largesse will allow her alma mater to put a greater academic focus on contemporary art. According to Jessica Nicoll, director of the SCMA, the Charlotte Feng Ford Curator of Contemporary Art will spearhead acquisitions, conduct research, collaborate with faculty and students to organize curriculum-integrated exhibitions, and bring contemporary art practitioners to Smith. Ford, who graduated with a degree in economics, began collecting contemporary art soon after leaving Smith and her hobby became a habit. Her collection includes works by Karen Kilimnik, Andrea Bowers, Ryan Trecartin, Gabriel Orozco, Wade Guyton, Laura Owens, and Gedi Sibony, as well as significant historical works by Yayoi Kusama, David Hammons, Mira Schendel, and Alice Neel. “I spoke with them about a donation and I wanted to do something meaningful that would have some impact,” Ford told us Monday. “We talked about this curator position. I hope it will generate a lot of interest from really great candidates, and I think it will have a lot of impact on students. I hope this will be great for the college.”

Names can be reached at names@globe.com. Follow Mark Shanahan on Twitter @MarkAShanahan.