American Folk Art Museum Logo

Symposia & Lectures
24 Oct 2021

Elizabeth and Irwin Warren Folk Art Symposium | Points of Interest: New Approaches to American Weathervanes

Weathervanes have historically served as both tools for farmers, sailors, and others to predict the wind’s direction, and fanciful, imaginative forms designed to captivate and delight viewers from below. Over time, these works have also become ritual objects imbued with stories, as well as signifiers of communal importance, individual identity, patriotism, status, and romanticized, bygone eras. This virtual symposium will showcase new research examining the rich and complex layers of meaning found within American weathervanes.

Points of Interest: New Approaches to American Weathervanes is a symposium organized in conjunction with the Museum’s current exhibition American Weathervanes: The Art of the Winds and in honor of Elizabeth and Irwin Warren, dedicated advocates of the American Folk Art Museum. The American Weathervanes exhibition is curated by Robert Shaw and coordinated by Emelie Gevalt with additional interpretation by consulting scholar Joseph Zordan.

Read speakers’ abstracts and learn more about our speakers here.

Space is limited; advance registration is required. Please consider making a donation when you register to support ongoing virtual programming.

Instructions for joining with a Zoom link and password will be provided by email upon registration confirmation under “Additional Information.” Closed captioning will be provided in English. For questions or to request accessibility accommodations, please email


1:00–3:00 p.m. ET | Session 1 Papers and Q&A

Welcome Remarks

Jason T. Busch, Director and CEO, American Folk Art Museum

Elizabeth Warren, President, American Folk Art Museum

Robert Shaw, guest curator, author of American Weathervanes: The Art of the Winds, and Editor, Americana Insights


Weathered Wood: The Materiality of Early American Weathervanes 

Laura Turner Igoe, Ph.D., Chief Curator, James A. Michener Art Museum


The Ecological Spectacle of Madison Square Garden’s Diana

Katherine Fein, Ph.D Candidate, Department of Art History and Archaeology, Columbia University


George Washington’s Dove of Peace: An Iconic Vane from a Moment of Change

Susan P. Schoelwer, Ph.D., Executive Director, Historic Preservation and Collections and Robert H. Smith Senior Curator, George Washington’s Mount Vernon


3:00 p.m. ET | Break (15 minutes)


3:15–5:00 p.m. ET | Session 2 Papers and Q&A

Winds of Change in the 1930s: Weathervanes, the Index of American Design, and Questioning Artistic Canon Formation

Elizabeth McGoey, Ph.D., Ann S. and Samuel M. Mencoff Associate Curator,  Arts of the Americas, The Art Institute of Chicago


Isamu Noguchi’s Weathervanes: An Artist Animates the Wind

Olivia Armandroff, Ph.D. Student, Art History, University of Southern California


Weathervanes and Double Consciousness: History, Provenance, & the Folk Art Canon

William D. Moore, Ph.D., Director, American & New England Studies Program and Associate Professor of American Material Culture, History of Art & Architecture, Boston University


Closing Remarks 

Emelie Gevalt, Curatorial Chair for Collections and Curator of Folk Art, American Folk Art Museum


5:00 p.m. ET | Symposium concludes


Image: Church banner weathervane, Artist unidentified, Orono, Maine, c. 1840, sheet iron, lead, copper, and blown glass with remnants of an early gilded surface, 61 x 74 ¼ in. Private collection. Photograph by Ellen McDermott, courtesy Olde Hope Antiques, Inc.

1:00 pm–5:00 pm

Online; free with registration