American Memory: Recalling the Past in Folk Art

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The World, March 24, 1832. Mary Hollister (1820 - ?) Watercolor and ink on paper. Museum purchase, N0005.2010

Folk artists express through their art the ordinary and extraordinary events that have shaped their lives and communities. Through the process of creating, folk artists make a permanent record of their cultural ideals, experiences, and community heritage. Today, these artworks serve as documents of American culture and the lives of the artists. We see in these objects a universal desire, conscious or not, to create a permanent statement of life, belief, and memory.

This year, see a selection of early 19th century theorems from the collection of The Historical Society of Early American Decoration.  Theorem Painting (cutting and using stencils as guides for painting still lifes) was part of an American schoolgirl’s course of study and was fashionably practiced by women in the early 1800s. Academies for young girls often included theorem painting as part of an art curriculum along with other handcrafts such as embroidery and samplers.  The display is on view in the Main Gallery as part of American Memory: Recalling the Past in Folk Art