Scent references in literature connect us to emotions and memories embodied in ourselves and fellow human beings. We extract smells from text without realizing it, locating internal experiences in the brain and sense-making the rest as we immerse ourselves in story.

Familiar aromatic references create a bond between reader and story, but what about scent references particular to a culture that readers are unfamiliar with?

Smell & Tell reveals an opportunity in the problem by sharing fragrance compositions inspired by Nights of Musk: Stories from Old Nubia by Haggag Hassan Oddoul[1] on perfume blotters, as well as three individual essences that play a defining role in the accords (short formulas).

The spark for this project was an artisan Nubian-Egyptian bridal oil obtained by Dr. Yasmin Moll. This led to “Narrating Nubia Through Scent”, an olfactory art installation created by Michelle Krell Kydd for the Narrating Nubia exhibit at the Duderstadt Gallery at the University of Michigan, (October 2023).

The Smell and Tell series of art+science programming is led by Michelle Krell Kydd, a trained nose in flavors and fragrance who shares her passion for gastronomy, sensory evaluation, and the perfume arts on Glass Petal Smoke. Smell & Tell builds community through interactions with flavor, fragrance, and storytelling.

[1] The accords were used to infuse passive scent devices made of unfinished pine wood in a multisensory gallery setting.

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howarde@aadl.org
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