May 16 through September 12, 2021

Rodale Gallery

What happens when a particular community and its creative works come into contact with the mainstream art world? Roots examines this process and its aftermath, revealing hidden layers of meaning behind iconic American aesthetics.

The exhibition includes works by Plains and Northwest Coast Native Americans, the artists of Gee’s Bend, Alabama, an African American community known for their abstract quilts, and the Shakers—a religious sect that made furniture expressing their values of simplicity and order. These works will be displayed alongside art and design inspired by these traditions. Through these case studies, Roots raises important questions about inspiration, appropriation, and identity.

This is one in a series of American art exhibitions created through a multi-year, multi-institutional partnership formed by the Philadelphia Museum of Art as part of the Art Bridges + Terra Foundation Initiative.

Featured image: Detail: Will Barnet (American, 1911-2012), Clear Day, 1956, oil on canvas. Allentown Art Museum: Gift of Abe Ajay, 1975 (1975.26)


The exhibition program at the Museum is supported through the generosity of the Harry C. Trexler Trust, the Julius and Katheryn Hommer Foundation, the Century Fund, the Bernard and Audrey Berman Foundation, the Leon C. and June W. Holt Endowment, the Martin Guitar Charitable Foundation, the County of Lehigh, the Keystone Foundation, the Allentown Art Museum Auxiliary, the Society of the Arts (SOTA), the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Friends of the Museum.