Americana Insights 2023 presents the latest research and discoveries on traditional American folk art and material culture. Groundbreaking essays by leading scholars provide a wealth of new insights on a wide array of artistic traditions. Covering a broad geographic area—including New England, the mid-Atlantic, South, and mid-West—and spanning the colonial era to early twentieth century, these essays enhance our understanding of the diverse American experience. This is the only interdisciplinary publication devoted exclusively to traditional Americana and folk art.
Contributors cover a range of topics including portraiture, furniture, jewelry, textiles, and works on paper. In the first volume, authors share groundbreaking research on the use of hooked rugs in the colonial revival era; revisit the work of a famed Connecticut portrait painter known as the Beardsley Limner and his namesake sitters; Rufus Porter’s work as an artist and entrepreneur; a distinctive group of paint-decorated dressing tables from New Hampshire; delicate cutworks made by an incarcerated inmate in Philadelphia’s Eastern State Penitentiary; painted tavern signs; jewelry in folk portraiture; New Jersey schoolmaster and calligrapher Thomas Earl; and signature quilts from the nineteenth century.
Contributors: Deborah M. Child, Pamela and Brian Ehrlich, Cynthia Fowler, Emelie Gevalt, Mark D. Mitchell, Eileen M. Smiles, Laura Fecych Sprague.
Robert Shaw is an independent curator and art historian who has written and lectured extensively on many aspects of American folk art. His many critically acclaimed books include Bird Decoys of North America: Nature History and Art (2010), American Quilts: The Democratic Art (2017), and American Weathervanes: The Art of the Winds (2021). He has curated exhibitions at the Dallas Museum of Natural History, the National Gallery of Art, the American Folk Art Museum, and the Shelburne Museum, where he served as curator from 1981 to 1994.