I moved to Lancaster in 2006 and soon became aware of (and enamored by) Fraktur – the Pennsylvania Dutch version of the illustrated manuscript. Around the same time I saw an exhibit of work by Clare Rojas at Locks Gallery in Philadelphia. I was struck by similarity between Rojas’ work and the historical Fraktur drawings.
Since 2007 I have been envisioning an exhibit that features original, historical Pennsylvania Dutch Fraktur folk art drawings set within the context of similarly themed artworks created in our time. This year I had the opportunity to curate Folklore for the Main Gallery at PCA&D. As I began to work on the exhibit I set out a brief thesis for myself, one that could be supported by my selection of artists and artworks.
I first identified a set of themes evident in the historical Fraktur drawings to which I wanted to call attention. These themes include:
- the way a particular occasion or event is commemorated
- the manner in which personal histories or mythologies are created
- the visual tension created when components such as color, shape and pattern are compressed in a flat space
- the humble, yet enduring power of visual forms hand-drawn on paper
It is my hope that by curating a selection of contemporary artists who also explore these (above) themes in their work, I have created a space for a rich conversation to be held about these works of art -created at different points in history- yet engaged in a similar pursuit.
Please join me this Thursday, March 20th at 4 p.m. in the Atrium at PCA&D as I moderate a panel discussion with artists from the exhibit, Clare Grill, Baker Overstreet and Benjamin Edmiston, as well as Wendell Zercher, a Fraktur expert from LancasterHistory.org.