From extraordinary early American portraits and dazzlingly complex quilts to playful whimsy bottles, delicately hand-tinted photographs, and fragments of rare twentieth-century art environments, MULTITUDES is an exhibition that celebrates six decades of collecting at the American Folk Art Museum across four centuries of folk and self-taught art.
Join exhibition curators Valérie Rousseau and Emelie Gevalt for a conversation on collecting stories, stewardship, and curatorial practices. Highlighting artists’ diverse experiences, identities, and creative practices, this dialogue will unpack some of the ways in which this wide-ranging exhibition expands our understanding of the Museum’s unique holdings. Learn more about beloved works from the collection, as well as new acquisitions by celebrated artists William Edmondson, Henry Darger, Ammi Phillips, Helen Rae, and many others on display for the first time.
Valérie Rousseau is Curatorial Chair for Exhibitions and Senior Curator of Self-Taught Art and Art Brut at the American Folk Art Museum. Since 2013, she has curated exhibitions on artists from various countries, including the AAMC’s award-winning When the Curtain Never Comes Down on performance art (2015), Art Brut in America: The Incursion of Jean Dubuffet (2015), and shows on Paa Joe (2019), William Van Genk (2014), Bill Traylor (2013), art brut photography (2019, 2021), and self-taught literature (2018). Rousseau holds a Ph.D. in art history from Université du Québec à Montréal and an MA in anthropology from École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris. She has authored various essays on arts emerging outside the art mainstream, from an international perspective, notably “Visionary Architectures” (The Alternative Guide to the Universe, Hayward Gallery, 2013), “Revealing Art Brut” (Culture & Musées, 2010), and Vestiges de l’indiscipline (Canadian Museum of Civilization, 2007).
Emelie Gevalt is Curatorial Chair for Collections and Curator of Folk Art at the American Folk Art Museum, where she most recently coordinated American Weathervanes: The Art of the Winds, and organized the traveling exhibition of American Perspectives: Stories from the American Folk Art Museum Collection. In addition to her curatorial work, Gevalt is a doctoral candidate in American art history at the University of Delaware, where her scholarship has been supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Often looking at earlier material through the lens of twentieth-century histories of collecting and collective memory, her work encompasses research interests in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century American portraiture, decorative painting, the Colonial Revival movement, and African American material culture and representation. Her dissertation is entitled “Unseen New England: Identity & Exclusion in 18th-Century Art and Material Culture.” Gevalt received her BA in art history and theater studies from Yale University and her MA from the Winterthur Program in American Material Culture. Her research has been supported in part by grants from the Craft Research Fund and the Decorative Arts Trust and has been published by the Chipstone Foundation. She has previously held positions at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and at Christie’s, New York, where she served as a Vice President and Senior Account Manager in the Estates & Appraisals department.
Support for 2022 public programs is provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).
Images: Eddie Owens Martin, aka St. EOM, Untitled, Buena Vista, Georgia, c. 1935–1957, Watercolor and pen on paper, 17 1/4 x 14 in., Gift of the Columbus State University Foundation and Kohler Foundation, Inc., made possible by Institute 193, 2018.22.4; Pecolia Warner, Pig Pen Quilt (Log Cabin Variation), Yazoo City, Mississippi, 1982, Cotton, linen, and synthetics, 79 1/2 x 76 1/2 in., Gift of Maude and James Wahlman, 1991.32.3, Photo by Scott Bowron; School of John Conrad Gilbert, Taufschein for Isaac Wummer, Pennsylvania, c. 1810, Watercolor and ink on paper, 7 7/8 × 12 3/16”, Gift of Ralph Esmerian, 2013.1.33, Photo by John Bigelow Taylor.