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GIFT DRAWING: A REWARD OF TRUE FAITHFULNESS FROM MOTHER LUCY TO ELEANOR POTTER
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  • Polly Ann (Jane) Reed (1818–1881)
  • New Lebanon, New York
  • 1848
  • Watercolor and ink on paper
  • 11 3/8 x 10 1/2 in. (sight)
  • American Folk Art Museum, gift of Ralph Esmerian, 2013.1.52
  • Beginning in 1837, an intense religious revival swept through the Shaker villages. Over a period of twenty or more years known as the Era of Manifestations, or Mother’s Work, Believers accepted visionary experiences as a part of daily life. These phenomena “received by inspiration” were recognized as “gifts” by the Shaker leadership, and included messages, songs, and drawings. A little more than two hundred gift drawings survive, all but a few the work of women at the villages in New Lebanon, New York, and Hancock, Massachusetts. Polly Reed, the meticulous scribe who recorded this gift, also transcribed visions into heart- and leaf-shaped cutouts, a spiritual map, and other works in watercolor. Mother Lucy was Lucy Wright (1760–1821), a principal leader of the United Society of Believers during its formative years. The drawing also contains a visionary message believed to have been received from Mother Ann Lee (1736–1784), the founder of the Society.