Just in time for Halloween, Kentucky’s Speed Art Museum welcomes Supernatural America: The Paranormal in American Art. Organized by the Minneapolis Institute of Art (Mia), this large exhibition debuted at the Toledo Museum of Art and travels to the Speed (until January 2, 2022) before concluding its tour in Mia, where it will be shown from February 19 to May 15, 2022.
“This groundbreaking exhibition brings together American artists from a wide range of artistic practices, cultures and generations with the aim of challenging and making sense of the idea of the afterlife and the unexplained. “said Speed curator Erika Holmquist-Wall. “Whether these artists draw from faith, folklore or even experience, their work appeals to the history and truths that haunt this country.
Supernatural America presents a unique and heartbreaking collection of artwork from 1800 to the present day that reflects America’s haunted nature and history. From Native American spiritual traditions to the Salem witch trials and Afrofuturism, the exhibition traces this country’s complex and complicated relationship with the afterlife.
The ghosts of a violent history of the United States, whether it be the genocide of Native Americans, slavery or the Civil War, remain unstable and periodically resurface to confront the present with the past. In intimate moments of mourning, the desire to come into contact with the spirits of the dead has led to cultures of mediumship, new ritual practices and a popular culture around spiritualism. Artists played a vital role in visualizing these ghosts, whether national or personal, and in doing so, embraced the mysterious and the unexplained. In the twentieth century, concerns about technology, atomic weapons, and the trauma of war inspired ideas about worlds beyond a troubled America. This exhibition explores the many ways in which artists in the United States made sense of their own experiences of the paranormal and the supernatural, and in doing so, developed a rich visual culture of the intangible.
The exhibition features the work of internationally renowned artists such as Reverend Howard Finster, Whitfield Lovell, Tony Oursler, Howardena Pindell, Betye Saar, Renée Stout, Dorothea Tanning, Alma Thomas, Grant Wood and Andrew Wyeth, as well as artefacts canonical, such as as John Quidor’s depiction of Ichabod Crane. The exhibit also highlights underrepresented artists whose work is more recent to art history and has never been included in American art museum exhibits, including the creations of ” spiritual artists’ of the 19th and 20th centuries – who claimed to make art by allowing their bodies to be directed by spirits or who acted as mediums to produce images during sessions without the intervention of a human hand.
Covering a chronology from the beginning of the 19th century to the present day, Supernatural America includes over 220 objects from artists as diverse as America itself, including paintings, drawings, sketchbooks, prints, photographs, furniture, clothing and textiles, videos, instruments scientific and mediumistic / occult props.
Curated by Robert Cozzolino, PhD, Mia’s Patrick and Aimee Butler Curator of Paintings, the multimedia exhibit garnered feedback from a large advisory group of artists, academics and community members.
“The mysterious and the intangible are an integral part of American identity for deep and painful reasons, which is why artists and artists of all media continue to make art on the supernatural,” Cozzolino said. , who began research for the exhibit in 2016. “At its heart, this exhibit is about humanity’s imaginative capacity to consider what lies beyond tangible existence, and how that is reflected in visual culture. ‘Supernatural America’ brings together American artists who have explored even the most incomprehensible or impossible ideas. The exhibition explores how these works relate to personal and collective narratives of the haunted, the spiritual and the cosmic.