20 North Main St (also enter on 224 Benefit Street) Providence, RI 02903

Open today 10 am–5 pm

a resource about art and its making

Making It in America

  • RISDM 01-003
  • RISDM 58-095
  • RISDM 06-002
  • RISDM 04-042 v_22
  • RISDM 22-220
  • RISDM 09-343 v_05
  • RISDM 03-002
  • RISDM 1991-126-80
  • RISDM 1991-118
  • RISDM 85-024
  • RISDM 78-086
Previous Next

Winslow Homer, On a Lee Shore, 1900. Jesse Metcalf Fund.

Friday, October 11, 2013 through Sunday, February 9, 2014

Opening celebration: October 10, 5:30-8 pm Chace Center Galleries

Making It in America is a giddy gallop through American dreams achieved … intoxicating.” — Boston Globe

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.

Making It in America: Opening Celebration

Thursday, October 10, 5:30-8 pm

Be among the first to view this exciting exhibition. Free, all welcome.

View all related programs and events.

View exhibition

Press Information

“More than 100 objects from the museum’s collection … demonstrate aspects of the forging of national identity in the United States.” — Boston Globe Critics’ Pick, Fall Arts Preview issue

“RISD celebrates the can-do spirit of American artists and designers while showing off some of the museum’s best-known artworks from the Colonial era through the early 20th century.” — Providence Journal

“A major survey of American-made art and design” — Providence Journal

“Phenomenal collection of American art.” — Design New England

Making It in America is an intellectual and aesthetic journey into the heart of the metaphor and metonymy that is ‘America.’” — The Curated Object

“In a contemporary gallery known for its clean cut lines and vast blank walls, one may be surprised to find an intricate set of traditional silver and an ethereal portrait of a woman in a pink ballgown. But together, this arrangement of historical artwork in a modern venue tells the story of a nation.” — Brown Daily Herald