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American Folk Art

Color and Shape: The Art of the American Theorem

Through January 2018

In the early years of the 19th century, theorem painting was a popular activity in both the school and home. Young girls were taught to use stencils to create colorful still life pictures, usually painted on fabric. Ladies’ magazines of the period also gave instruction to those wanting to try the technique at home. This exhibition features 11 paintings, exploring how the theorems were made and how individual artists, using very similar stencils, created their own take on the subject.  

Often consisting of some combination of fruit and a basket or vase, the pictures varied depending on the use of colors, the skill of the artist and the addition of other elements like birds or butterflies. Today many of the theorems survive without the name of the maker, but four pieces in the exhibition are signed, providing the opportunity to take a closer look at the diverse backgrounds of the artists.

On view in the Mary B. and William Lehman Guyton Gallery

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Abby's Art

Drop in at the cottage after you tour Bassett Hall to learn about theorems and make your own to take home. Theorems were a favorite form of folk art that Abby Aldrich Rockefeller chose for this special home.