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American Perspectives: Stories from the American Folk Art Museum Collection

February 11, 2020–January 3, 2021
Exhibition
At the American Folk Art Museum
2 Lincoln Square, Manhattan

In American Perspectives, explore powerful visual narratives that offer firsthand testimony to chapters in the unfolding story of America from its inception to the present. This exhibition showcases more than seventy stellar works of folk and self-taught art from the museum’s collection. Beautiful, diverse, and truthful, the art illuminates the thoughts and experiences of individuals with an immediacy that is palpable and unique to these expressions. The artworks are organized into four sections—Founders, Travelers, Philosophers, and Seekers— and respond to such themes as nationhood, freedom, community, imagination, opportunity, and legacy. Evocative visual juxtapositions and accessible contextual information further reveal the vital role that folk art plays as a witness to history, carrier of cultural heritage, and a reflection of the world at large through the eyes, heart, and mind of the artist. Learn more about works in the exhibition here.

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Exhibition curator: Stacy C. Hollander

If you could share one anecdote about yourself, your life, or your community/communities, what would it be? Record your thoughts here and submit for a chance to share your contribution. All are welcome to participate! Please keep submissions brief (250 words or less).

Images: 

Freedom Quilt; Jessie B. Telfair (1913–1986); Parrott, Georgia; 1983; Cotton, with pencil; 74 x 68 in.; Collection American Folk Art Museum, Gift of Judith Alexander in loving memory of her sister, Rebecca Alexander, 2004.9.1. Photo by Gavin Ashworth.

Memories of the Veteran; Nick Quijano Torres (b. 1953); Old San Juan, Puerto Rico; 1984; laquered gouache on paper; 12 1/4 x 12 1/4 in.; Collection American Folk Art Museum, gift of Dorothea and Leo Rabkin, 1984.2.1.

Maria Rex Zimmerman; Jacob Maentel (1778–?); Schaefferstown, Pennsylvania; c. 1828; watercolor, gouache, ink, and pencil on paper; 17 x 10 1/2 in.; Collection American Folk Art Museum, gift of Ralph Esmerian, 2013.1.5. Photo © 2000 John Bigelow Taylor.

Peter Zimmerman; Jacob Maentel (1778–?); Schaefferstown, Pennsylvania; c. 1828; watercolor, gouache, ink, and pencil on paper; 17 x 10 1/2 in.; Collection American Folk Art Museum, gift of Ralph Esmerian, 2013.1.6. Photo © 2000 John Bigelow Taylor.

Cenotaph to Three Martyred Presidents; artist unidentified; United States; c. 1925–1940; wood with photographic images on paper; 38 x 31 3/4 x 1 3/4 in.; American Folk Art Museum, gift of the Hirschhorn Foundation, 1997.6.5. Photo by David Stansbury.

Presidents Quilt; Clara J. Martin (1882–1968); Mount Clemens, Michigan; 1964; paint on cotton canvas on wool with cotton embroidery; 88 x 72 in.; Collection American Folk Art Museum, gift of Marta Amundson; great-granddaughter of Clara J. Martin, 2015.2.1. Photo by Kristine Larsen.

Credits

This exhibition is supported in part by Art Bridges, the David Davies and Jack Weeden Fund for Exhibitions, the Richard C. von Hess Foundation, the Juliet Lea Hillman Simonds Foundation, the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, the Stacy C. Hollander Fund for Exhibitions, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, and the Council for Traditional Folk Art.