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American Perspectives: Stories from the American Folk Art Museum Collection

February 11, 2020–May 31, 2020
Exhibition
At the American Folk Art Museum
Lincoln Square, Manhattan

Everyone has a story to tell—a life lived, witness to and participant in events both private and shared. Such moments are captured by American folk and self-taught artists in powerful visual narratives that offer firsthand testimony to chapters in the unfolding story of America from its inception to the present. American Perspectives: Stories from the American Folk Art Museum Collection showcases more than seventy stellar works of folk and self-taught art from the museum’s premier 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—that 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.

Exhibition curator: Stacy C. Hollander

Learn more about works in the exhibition here

Tell us a story about a defining moment in your life.

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).

 

Exhibition-Related Programs


Families and Folk Art: Artists’ Materials – April 4, 2020
Encompassing America: Identity, Immigration, and Museums – April 14, 2020
Critical Walk-Through: Cheryl Pope on (Text)iles and Power – April 22, 2020
Families and Folk Art: Communities & Identity – May 2, 2020
Elizabeth and Irwin Warren Folk Art Symposium – May 4, 2020

 

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.

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.

Encyclopedic Palace/Palazzo Enciclopedico/Palacio Enciclopedico/Palais Encyclopédique or Monumento Nazionale. Progetto Enciclopedico Palazzo (U.S. patent no. 179,277); Marino Auriti (1891–1980); Kennett Square, Pennsylvania; c. 1950s; wood, plastic, glass, metal, hair combs, and model kit parts; 11 x 7 x 7 feet; Collection American Folk Art Museum, gift of Colette Auriti Firmani in memory of Marino Auriti, 2002.35.1. 

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.

Blue Meat; Kevin Sampson (b. 1954); Newark, New Jersey; 2000; mixed media with found objects and bone; 28 x 16 x 17 in.; Collection American Folk Art Museum, gift of Evelyn S. Meyer, 2005.10.5. Photo by Gavin Ashworth.

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.