Experience early American folk art this summer at the world-renowned Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville.
The United States has always been a nation of makers. Ever since our country was young, Americans have relied on the skill of their own hands to make for themselves whatever items they required for everyday use or household decoration. A new exhibition opening July 2 at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art tells the story of the early days of the United States through the objects made by everyday people. On display through Sept. 19, American Made: Treasures from the American Folk Art Museum features 115 artworks, including quilts, carvings, signs, samplers, weathervanes, whirligigs and more from the renowned collection of the American Folk Art Museum in New York City. The exhibition was created especially for Crystal Bridges, and is the first time the museum has shown an entire exhibition of American folk art.
For the most part, the artisans who made these objects had no formal training in the “fine arts” of sculpture or painting. Nevertheless, they were confident in their abilities to create items that were not only functional and well made, but a pleasure to use and to look at. Over time these works became known as “folk art,” and for many years were not considered true “artworks” and so were largely ignored. Fortunately, times change, and these handmade, everyday artworks were brought out of the attic and back into the public eye to receive the recognition and study they deserve. The things we make tell a story about who we are, and so these objects offer a very personal insight into our national identity: our history, our culture, and our values. Learn more about the exhibition and other upcoming museum events at crystalbridges.org.
Photos courtesy Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art / Collection American Folk Art Museum. L-R: Map Quilt, 1886, artist unidentified (photo by Schecter Lee); Columbia Weathervane, ca. 1865-1875, possibly Cushing and White (photo by Gavin Ashworth); Horse Jack of Woodbridge, NJ, 1871, James Bard (photo by Sotheby’s); Love Token for Sarah Newlin, with Envelope, 1799, artist unknown (photo by Gavin Ashworth); Bicycle, Livery, Carriage, and Paint Shop Trade Sign, 1895 1905, Amedé T. Thibault (photo by Art Resource, NY); Uncle Sam Riding a Bicycle Whirligig, ca. 1880-1920, artist unidentified (photo by John Parnell); Mrs. Keyser, ca. 1834, unknown (photo by Art Resource, NY); S.D. Plum Tavern Sign (double sided), 1813, unknown (photo by John Bigelow Taylor); Rising Star Variation Quilt, 1848, Elsey A. Halstead (photo by Gavin Ashworth)