“Ordinary Made Extraordinary: A Survey of Folk Art,” on view at the Morris Museum through December 9, celebrates the creativity of artists who work outside the walls of the art academy. Largely self taught, these individuals created compelling artwork that finds beauty in the needs and challenges of everyday life. Whether functional in origin or pure whimsy, folk art embodies both traditional and individual expressions that are as varied as the human experience.
Drawn from a private collection and the Morris Museum’s permanent collection, the works featured demonstrate how folk art can take inspiration from many sources †as a conveyor of cultural traditions, a celebration of national history or as a portal for personal expressions.
This exhibition includes more than 150 objects ranging from weathervanes, carousel animals, sculpture, maritime art and trade signs to furniture, kitchen utensils, games and toys (including whimsies and whirligigs), textiles, paintings and works on paper.
Highlights include carved carousel animals by craftsmen Gustav Denzel, Charles Looff and Charles Parker; a selection of more than 30 weathervanes in a variety of shapes (horses, cows, peacocks, and other animals) by Jonathan Howard, Alvin Jewel and unknown makers; painted furniture, such as cradles, a mammy bench and a trio of chests attributed to the Compass Point Artist; trade signs ranging from barber shop poles to a showpiece created by a blacksmith; works on paper, including calligraphy drawings and an example of intricate Hebrew micrography by David Davidson; maritime art featuring a selection of scrimshaw, a seaman’s letter box and a pilot house eagle; and textiles, including quilts and samplers.
The exhibition also features contemporary Outsider art created outside mainstream society and the precepts of mainstream art work. Often the biography or circumstances in which the individual artist pursued his or her creative expression reflects a marginalization by society. Included are works by Bill Traylor, Thai Varick, Raymond Masterson and Martin Ramirez.
The museum is at 6 Normandy Heights Road (at the corner of Columbia Turnpike). For information, 973-971-3700 or www.morrismuseum.org .