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American Perspectives: Stories from the American Folk Art Museum Collection

American folk and self-taught artists offer firsthand testimony to chapters in the unfolding story of America – from its inception to the present – in powerful visual narratives.

Committed February 2020 - 2022

Exhibition Images

  • Freedom Quilt. Jessie B. Telfair

    Freedom Quilt. Jessie B. Telfair (1913–1986). Parrott, Georgia. 1983. Cotton, with pencil. 74 x 68" Collection American Folk Art Museum, New York. Gift of Judith Alexander in loving memory of her sister, Rebecca Alexander, 2004.9.1 Photo by Gavin Ashworth, New York

  • S. D. Plum Tavern Sign, Artist unidentified, 1813

    S. D. Plum Tavern Sign. Artist unidentified. Probably Meriden, Connecticut 1813. Paint on pine with iron. 51 x 34 x 3 in. Collection American Folk Art Museum, New York Gift of Ralph Esmerian, 2013.1.55. Photo courtesy of Sotheby’s, New York.

  • Mother Sister May Have Sat in That Chair When She Lived in This House Before Me. Jean-Marcel St. Jacques, 2014.

    Mother Sister May Have Sat in That Chair When She Lived in This House Before Me. Jean-Marcel St. Jacques (b. 1972). New Orleans, Louisiana. 2014. Reclaimed wood, nails, and antique hardware on plywood. 84 x 96 in. Collection American Folk Art Museum, New York Gift of Jean-Marcel St. Jacques, LLC, 2014.18.2. Photo courtesy of American Folk Art Museum.

  • Political Harvest Jug . Artist unidentified. 1857.

    Political Harvest Jug. Artist unidentified. United States 1857. Salt-gazed stoneware with cobalt decoration. 14 3/4 x 9 x 9 in. Collection American Folk Art Museum, New York Gift of Jerry and Susan Lauren, 2015.14.1. Photo by Kristine Larsen.

  • Sheldon Peck. Increase Child Bosworth; Abigail Munro Bosworth Simonds. 1840.

    Increase Child Bosworth; Abigail Munro Bosworth Simonds. Sheldon Peck (1797–1868). Dundee, Illinois. 1840. Oil on canvas. 37 1/8 x 34 in.; 36 3/4 x 34 1/4 in. Collection American Folk Art Museum, New York. Gift of the families of Abbie Louise Bosworth Williams and Eleanora Bosworth Black, 2016.3.1, 2. Photo by Gavin Ashworth.

About the Exhibition

Everyone has a story to tell. A life lived, as witness to or 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. The American Folk Art Museum is pleased to propose a major traveling exhibition in partnership with Art Bridges that shares these stories and more with audiences throughout the United States.

The exhibition will showcase 50-70 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 will be organized into four sections – Founders, Travelers, Philosophers, Seekers – that respond to such themes as nationhood, freedom, community, imagination, opportunity, and legacy. Evocative visual juxtapositions and accessible contextual information will 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.

Specifications

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