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.

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Inspired Programming

The Threads We Share: Quilting Circle & Story Collection

The Threads We Share project invites audiences to create quilt pieces reflecting the themes of the Roots: Sources of American Art and Design exhibition. The Threads We Share project aims to seek the similarities in our unique “threads” and learn to embrace what makes us all different. By exploring unity and appreciating the cultural stories that showcase our differences, bridges to the commonalities among us all will be built.
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The exhibition program at the Museum is supported through the generosity of The Bernard and Audrey Berman Foundation and the Leon C. and June W. Holt Endowment.