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Rural, Folk, and Self-Taught Art from the Collection
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Rural, Folk, and Self-Taught Art from the Collection

Since its opening in 1933, The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art has collected art from traditions passed down through generations of makers. Some of it was commissioned, such as the portraits painted by itinerant artists who travelled through rural areas. In other cases, the makers created for themselves and their families, sometimes drawing on a deep, personal calling. Many of the artists shown in this exhibition lived with and had intimate connections to the objects on view. These artists include women or others who often did not have access to formal art instruction, because of their geographical location, gender, race, or class.

Taken together, the art in this exhibition and in the surrounding galleries produced by artists trained in urban centers or Europe, expand our understanding of the United States’ history, its people, and their lives.

Organized by The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.

Calvin Balis, American (1817/1818-1863). George and Emma Eastman, 1850. Oil on canvas, 60 3/8 x 6 feet 1/2 inches. The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Purchase: William Rockhill Nelson Trust, 33-43.