The Smiling Museum is an ongoing collaborative project developed by Twin Cities-based artists Justin D. Allen and Naomi Crocker, and artworks by Meagan Marsh and Noah Doely which explores the cultural practice of smiling. The 2019 iteration, presented at Century College’s Niche Teaching Gallery, synthesizes elements from the seemingly disparate disciplines of art and dentistry. Of particular focus is the medium of photography, which overlaps with ‘the science of teeth’ in terms of materials, processes, and history. From photographic objects used in dentistry (e.g. X-rays) to works that highlight the alchemical aspects of each discipline, The Smiling Museum invites visitors to engage with the notion of smiling and contemplate questions such as:
What is the aesthetic of a smile?
Why is no one ever smiling in old photographs?
How are smiling norms related to gender?
Decay of teeth // decay of memory: Can humans preserve time?
How have smiles been viewed by society throughout history?
How can the disciplines of photography and dentistry inform the discourse of permanence/impermanence?