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27 Jun 2023

Virtual Insights: Material Witness–Artists from the Collection At Work

Material Witness: Folk and Self-Taught Artists is the first in a series of thematic shows drawn from the Museum’s collection that will run from March 2023 to September 2024. Organized in the Daniel Cowin Gallery, these exhibitions invite viewers to admire the museum’s collection up close while showcasing an expansive history of American art.

In this program, Luce Assistant Curator Brooke Wyatt walks us through Material Witness, which explores how artists from the collection learn with and through material engagement. With a focus on the ways raw materials and traditional tools are utilized and transformed into mediators of lived experience, this curatorial presentation will provide an in-depth study of artists’ unique training, working processes, and radical visions.

AFAM’s Collections and Exhibitions Associate Lisa Machi will join the discussion to share more about her collaboration with  Brooke Wyatt  and her vision for the exhibition design. This conversation will offer viewers an opportunity to learn how objects from AFAM’s collection are prepared, installed, and displayed for exhibition. 

Material Witness is generously supported by a grant from the Henry Luce Foundation. Presented in the Daniel Cowin Gallery – originally established by Trustee Joyce Berger Cowin in memory of her husband, also a Trustee and champion of the Museum, it includes recently acquired works, including selections from the Audrey B. Heckler collection, and gifts from Jill and Sheldon Bonovitz, Peter J. Cohen, and Willett Bracken Evans.

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

About the speakers

Brooke Wyatt is Luce Assistant Curator at the American Folk Art Museum where she is working on a series of exhibitions drawn from the Museum’s collection of folk and self-taught art. She practiced as a clinical therapist in community mental health settings and worked as an art teacher before beginning her PhD in the History of Art and Architecture at the University of Pittsburgh. Brooke’s doctoral dissertation, titled “Séraphine Louis and French Self-Taught Art in Transatlantic Modernist Discourse,” explores the material and representational strategies of the French artist Séraphine Louis, foregrounding how histories of race, gender, class, and disability have shaped the reception and exhibition of Louis’s work across Europe and the Americas from the late 1920s to the present day.

Lisa Machi is Collections & Exhibitions Associate at the American Folk Art Museum. She works with the Collections department in the care and preservation of the permanent collection of the American Folk Art Museum and on the coordination and installation of exhibitions at the museum. She holds a MA in the History of Art and Archaeology from the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University.


Left: Consuelo “Chelo” González Amézcua, Scrutinare Del Rio, Val Verde Couny, Texas Work, n.d., pencil and ballpoint pen on paper, 27 3/16 x 21 1/8 in. American Folk Art Museum, New York, Gift of Jacqueline Loewe Fowler, 2018.19.1; center: Jimmy Lee Sudduth, Untitled (Self-Portrait), n.d., mud and paint on plywood, 50 ¼ x 27 in. American Folk Art Museum, New York, gift of the Gitter-Yelen Collection, 2022.9.2; right: Jacob Strickler (1770-1842) Fraktur with Inverted Heart Shenandoah County, Virginia, 1803, Watercolor and ink on paper, 6 3/16 x 8 ¼ in. American Folk Art Museum, New York, gift of Ralph Esmerian, 2005.8.30.

1:00 pm–2:15 pm

Virtual; free with registration