More than 100 outstanding works of painting, sculpture, and decorative arts from the RISD Museum’s collection illuminate connections between American ambitions and the making art in Making It in America. The exhibition’s title is a double entendre: just as individual accounts of American life revolve around searches for freedom, fulfillment, and identity, these stories are also embedded in the creation of works that comprise the history of American art.
This show features objects from pre-Revolutionary times to the early 20th century, including John Singleton Copley’s grand manner portrait of Governor Moses Gill, George Bellows’ rugged painting of New York’s North River in winter, finely designed furniture with hand-carved motifs from Newport’s Townsend and Goddard workshops that rivaled European examples in the 18th century, and the glorious excess of monumental silver works by Providence’s Gorham Manufacturing Company that represented the city’s ambitions into the 19th and 20th centuries.
Making It in America is designed by Thomas Jayne, renowned decorator and decorative arts historian. Jayne, who trained in the Winterthur Museum’s graduate program for American Material Culture, incorporates historic—and unexpected—patterns and colors to create a stunning installation that highlights the evolution of color and pattern in American design.