Thursday, October 20, 2016

Post Mortem Portraiture at the American Folk Art Museum and Related Events

 The Farwell Children, Deacon Robert Peckham (1785-1877), Fitchburg, Massachusetts, c. 1841. Oil on canvas, 53 1/2 x 40 1/2″; 62 1/2 x 48″ (framed). Collection American Folk Art Museum, New York. Gift of Raph Esmerian, 2005.8.11. Photo © 2000 John Bigelow Taylor.
Following is a guest post from our friends at The American Folk Art Museum about some exciting events related to their wonderful new exhibition on post-mortem portraiture. One of the events--a symposium entitled How We Remember: Death in American Art and Culture, taking place on January 28--will be moderated by Morbid Anatomy's creator Joanna Ebenstein.
Securing the Shadow: Posthumous Portraiture in America, on view at the American Folk Art Museum through February 26, 2017, is a contemplation of American self-taught portraiture through the lens of memory and loss. Curated by Stacy C. Hollander, the exhibition traces the derivation of posthumous portraiture from literal shadows traced on a wall to the metaphorical shadow secured by the photographer through postmortem daguerreotypes.

During the run of the exhibition, several public programs have been organized to reflect the scope of cultural expressions of death in the United States. These include a concert by Eli Smith, the Four O’Clock Flowers, and Mamie Minch exploring death and mourning in American folk music; a screening of Elizabeth Westrate’s 2004 documentary, A Family Undertaking, which explores the home burial movement; and a discussion with authors Meghan O’Rourke and Deborah Landau about the process of writing about grief and loss. Hands-on workshops are also part of the line-up, including a Day of the Dead papel picado demonstration and a mourning jewelry workshop.

The culmination of these programs will be How We Remember: Death in American Art and Culture, a half-day symposium in which scholars and artists come together to examine the iconography and symbolism of death in America. Participants include curator Stacy C. Hollander; Gary M. Laderman, author of The Sacred Remains: American Attitudes Toward Death, 1799-1883; Dr. Stanley B. Burns, historian, collector, and author; Jessica Regan, assistant curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute; Kate Sweeney, author of American Afterlife; and Joyce Burstein, creator of the epitaph project. Morbid Anatomy Museum’s cofounder and creative director, Joanna Ebenstein, will moderate the symposium. 

Morbid Anatomy Members are invited to purchase public program tickets at the American Folk Art Museum’s membership price during the run of the Securing the Shadow exhibition.

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