The Shakers believed all labor was worship that would bring them closer to God and that simplicity is the embodiment of purity and unity. We see the fruits of their labor in such diverse objects as an oval box, a staircase, a chair, or even a ladder. They lived, worked, and worshiped in communal villages, and believed their lives held a deeper purpose, realized only through the discipline of the flesh. Only by renouncing their passions and the enslavement to their appetites could they find the order that would bring their lives and work on earth closer to the perfection of heaven. Their art reflected their beliefs by focusing on communal rather than individual expression. By combining objects from the collection of the Shaker Museum and Library, Old Chatham, New York, with contemporary artwork on loan to the Tang Teaching Museum, Work: Shaker Design and Recent Art proposed new ways of looking at familiar and beloved forms alongside contemporary avant-garde art.
Artists include Janine Antoni, Fern Apfel, Stephen Dean, Jessica Diamond, Peter Fischli and David Weiss, Meighan Gale, Sam Gordon, Ann Hamilton, Richard Pettibone, Ad Reinhardt, Kate Shepherd, and Andrea Zittel.
Organized by Ian Berry, Curator of the Tang Museum, with Tom Lewis, Quadracci Professor of Social Responsibility and Professor of English, Skidmore College.
A catalogue with entries by Ian Berry and Tom Lewis is available.