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Virtual Insights: Weathervanes in Context

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Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Enjoy a conversation on weathervanes, exhibition-making, and American Weathervanes: The Art of the Winds with Curator of Folk Art Emelie Gevalt and acclaimed folk art scholar and exhibition curator Robert Shaw. From fantastic sea serpents and running roosters to trains and sailing ships, this discussion introduces the fascinating variety of weathervanes and notable works featured in the Museum’s current exhibition. Hear more about how these objects were made, collected, and came to be seen as both patriotic emblems of America’s complex national identity and a quintessentially American folk art form.

Emelie Gevalt is a Curator of Folk Art at the American Folk Art Museum, where she recently curated Signature Styles: Friendship, Album, and Fundraising Quilts, as part of a series of quilts exhibitions at AFAM’s location in Long Island City. She has previously held positions at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and Christie’s, New York. Gevalt is pursuing her doctorate in American art history at the University of Delaware, where her scholarship has been supported by an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Curatorial Track Ph.D. Fellowship. Often looking at earlier material through the lens of twentieth-century histories of collecting and collective memory, her work encompasses research interests in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century American portraiture, painted furniture, the Colonial Revival movement, and African American material culture. Gevalt received her BA in Art History and Theater Studies from Yale University and her MA from the Winterthur Program in American Material Culture. Her Winterthur thesis, on the topic of early eighteenth-century painted chests from Taunton, Massachusetts, was recently published in the Chipstone Foundation’s American Furniture (2019). Her research has been supported in part by grants from the Craft Research Fund and the Decorative Arts Trust.

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 America’s Traditional Crafts (1993), American Baskets (2000), Bird Decoys of North America: Nature, History, and Art (2010), and American Quilts: The Democratic Art (2017). In addition to curating the exhibition American Weathervanes: The Art of the Winds at the American Folk Art Museum and authoring the accompanying book, he also has curated exhibitions at the Fenimore Art Museum, the Dallas Museum of Natural History, the National Gallery of Art, and the Shelburne Museum, where he served as curator from 1981 to 1994. He has lectured at the Baltimore Museum of Art, the de Young Museum of Fine Arts, the Houston Museum of Natural Science, Sotheby’s, and dozens of other venues.

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