Dear members and friends,
The American Folk Art Museum celebrates the ingenuity and passion of an extraordinarily diverse group of artists. It is our mission to preserve this art and serve as the leader of research and scholarship in this field. Crucial to the mission is the education of new audiences, especially young people. They need to know that art is creative, innovative, and provides numerous career paths as well as spiritual and intellectual nourishment. Traditional folk art and the creative expressions of the self-taught provide a perfect avenue for young people to explore how art enriches our national life and culture.
This is our mantra, and it was invoked last Wednesday evening, October 16, as we celebrated the Museum at a fund-raising gala benefiting our educational programs. Specifically, the Folk Couture Benefit Gala spotlighted the Museum’s upcoming exhibition Folk Couture: Fashion and Folk Art. This show, which opens January 21, 2014, will feature original couture inspired by works of art from the Museum’s collection. Museum educators will work directly with the High School of Fashion, the Washington Heights Expeditionary School, and Talent Unlimited, not to mention the many other schools the Museum serves on a daily basis.
I was so glad to see so many friends, old and new, who attended the celebration honoring leaders in the fashion world: Tim Gunn, our host, and our honorees, Dr. Valerie Steele and Lucy Sykes. Event Chair Yaz Hernández, a strong voice in art and fashion, worked tirelessly with Cochair and Chairman of the Museum’s Board of Trustees Laura Parsons.
But please don’t wait until January to visit. There are many exciting events coming up. alt_quilts: Sabrina Gschwandtner, Luke Haynes, Stephen Sollins, our current exhibition, redefines a traditional American icon, the pieced quilt. Join us on Saturday, October 26, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., for Quilt Day, an annual celebration of this extraordinary art form. Demonstrations by metropolitan-area quilt guilds will be followed by a curatorial talk (2–3 p.m.) about the works on view in the galleries.
Artist Sabrina Gschwandtner will be discussing the political and social themes of her celluloid “quilts” following a presentation of the 28-minute, groundbreaking 1981 documentary “Quilts in Women’s Lives” on Wednesday, November 13, at 6 p.m. Artist Stephen Sollins will analyze aspects of communication embedded in the patterns and choices seen in quilts, and share methods of abstraction in his own work, on Thursday, December 12, at 6 p.m. Both programs are free.
The Museum Shop is preparing for the holidays by surveying the global landscape of unusual gifts. Watch for original accessories—scarves, belts, and other lovely and fashionable treats—created by a few of the designers involved with Folk Couture.
Chief Curator Stacy C. Hollander led a gallery tour for visitors from the Quilt Alliance’s “Quilters Take Manhattan” weekend on September 30, and Dr. Valérie Rousseau, curator of Art of the Self-Taught and Art Brut, is participating in panel discussions taking place at the Outsider Art Fair Paris this week. The Encyclopedic Palace of the World, Marino Auriti’s astounding vision for a library of all worldly knowledge, currently on view at the Venice Biennale, continues to draw audiences from around the world.
The holidays are just around the corner, and we will keep you informed of our progress, events, and new research.
The Honorable Anne-Imelda Radice, PhD
Image: Photo by Gavin Ashworth.