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28 May 2024

A Message from Jason T. Busch

Dear Friend,

The spring season coincides with a momentous time at the American Folk Art Museum! 

Earlier this month, we were thrilled to host a benefit event headlined by Nadya Tolokonnikova, the iconic artist and activist behind the renowned feminist protest art collective Pussy Riot. Nadya’s pursuit of justice through art embodies the spirit of resilience and creativity that we champion at AFAM. As Billboard reported, the event celebrated Tolokonnikova’s extraordinary contributions to contemporary art and activism and the Museum’s mission of fostering dialogue and understanding. 

In April, the Museum opened two new exhibitions in New York. Francesc Tosquelles: Avant-Garde Psychiatry and the Birth of Art Brut highlights the legacy of a trailblazing psychiatrist who utilized art in the process of healing individuals living with mental illness. The story of Tosquelles unfolds across numerous chapters and subplots, encompassing escape, exile, action, and unwavering perseverance. His journey serves as a testament to an experience that is both utopian and survivalist, offering profound insights into the power of art. AFAM is the final venue for this groundbreaking exhibition organized by the Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona. The show was previously on view at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid, Spain and Abattoirs, Musée–Frac Occitanie Toulouse, France. 

Meanwhile, in the Daniel Cowin Gallery, we are pleased to present Somewhere to Roost, which contains over 60 works from the Museum’s collection, including paintings, textiles, photographs, and sculptures, and explores the ways that artists evoke and construct ideas of “home.” This exhibition is the third presentation of AFAM’s ever-evolving collection sponsored by a generous grant from The Henry Luce Foundation. 

The reach of the Museum also extends far beyond New York. In April, I was at Historic Deerfield in Massachusetts for the opening of Unnamed Figures: Black Presence and Absence in the Early American North. This self-originated exhibition, which The New York Times called a vitally important and deeply moving show, will be on view at Deerfield through August 4, 2024.

On a somber note, I am deeply saddened to note the passing of Audrey B. Heckler, whose impact on our Museum cannot be overstated. She was a devoted AFAM Trustee since 2003 and enriched the Museum through loans for exhibitions, gifts of art to the collection, and financial support for a variety of initiatives, notably the leadership of the Council for Self-Taught Art &  Art Brut and the Visionary Award. 

As many of you will recall, in 2020 the Museum was honored to announce the donation of Audrey’s art collection, and we subsequently named a gallery in her honor at 2 Lincoln Square. I am grateful that Audrey was with us at the opening reception of our spring exhibitions, and that we were able to be together one final time in celebration of the Museum that she cherished. 

I wish you well as the season continues and hope to see you in our galleries soon!


In gratitude,