Artists Experiment is an annual initiative in the Department of Education that brings together contemporary artists in dialogue with MoMA educators to conceptualize ideas for developing innovative and experimental public interactions. Learn more

How do colonial-era American craft and modernism go hand-in-hand? Both art movements were furthered by the Rockefeller family, who built Colonial Williamsburg from 1927 onwards, and MoMA from 1929 onwards. Both projects were concerned with a search for what is distinctively American. The recent MoMA exhibition American Modern: Hopper to O'Keeffe touched upon MoMA founding Director Alfred H. Barr's interest in developing genealogical narratives for American art. He and others asked the essentialist question: Is there such a thing as a uniquely (North) American" art? For Barr, the narrative of American art began with folk art. This course looks at the period of 1790–1840, locating a pre-modern precedent for American art not in the representational, accessible folk art paintings that Barr favored, but in everyday things created by people who did not consider themselves artists or designers (but who perhaps should be by today's standards). These artists also sought to stake out an American creative quality apart from that of Europe, but they did so through three-dimensional objects and all-encompassing domestic interiors: ceramics, textiles, furniture, floor coverings, lighting fixtures, and other forms of interior decoration. This course asks participants to consider even earlier forms of sculpture, installation, and social practice: American pre-modern.

Allison Smith has been exhibiting, performing, and teaching professionally since 1995 throughout the United States, England, France, Germany, New Zealand, and South Korea. Smith has lectured extensively at art schools and research universities in the United States and abroad, and at MoMA, the Whitney Museum of American Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, SculptureCenter, and the Vera List Center for Art and Politics. She is a tenured professor and Chair of the Sculpture Program at California College of the Arts in San Francisco.

This class meets April 26 and 27. See MoMA Classes for more details.

Tickets are available online.