Starting in the mid-1840s the Shaker artist Joshua Bussell made a number of illustrated maps and landscape views picturing the Maine Shaker villages. Though he left no written record to explain his purpose in making these drawings, they appear to have served as a way for the Shakers to organize and document the built environment of Shaker life. This talk describes how the Shakers used these village views to help promote a sense of community among fellow Believers by sharing them with other Shaker societies, and to help communicate the visual culture of Maine Shaker life to the Shakers’ Central Ministry at New Lebanon, New York.
Lecturer Robert P. Emlen is University Curator at Brown University, where he is responsible for the art collections and historic properties furnishing the Brown campus. He also holds appointments as Senior Lecturer in the Department of American Studies at Brown, and as Adjunct Faculty in the Department of the History of Art & Visual Culture at the Rhode Island School of Design. His courses on the study of American material culture include "Houses and their Furnishings in Early America," "Gravestones and Burying Grounds," "American Folk Art," "The Neoclassical Ideal in America," "The Arts and Crafts Movement in America,” and “The Shaker Aesthetic.”
Emlen has published his research on the material life of 18th- and 19th- century America in the leading journals of American material culture and is presently working on a companion book to his Shaker Village Views: Illustrated Maps and Landscape Drawings by Shaker Artists of the Nineteenth Century (University Press of New England, 1987.) The current project explores how Shaker life was illustrated in the popular press of 19th -century America.
No advance reservations. Tickets available day-of at the main admission desk starting at 10 a.m. Doors open at 1:30 p.m. for open seating.
Location: Farnsworth auditorium
Cost: $5 members; $12 nonmembers