So much more than popsicle sticks and glitter

by Rebecca Zuppann, West Region Program Assistant

When I first started working at the T.C. Steele State Historic Site, I was asked to help work on an exhibit about the Arts & Crafts Movement. To be completely honest, I had never heard of the Arts & Crafts Movement, so naturally my first thoughts were of popsicle sticks, glitter and pipe cleaners. Thankfully, I had it all wrong and was able to discover an incredible time period in art history.

The Arts & Crafts Movement was a design revolution that found roots in England in the mid-1800s. The founder of the Movement, William Morris, strongly believed that beauty and quality of goods could only be achieved through skilled craftsmanship and not solely by the production of machines. This belief, along with his socialist ideals, inspired his goal of making quality, hand-crafted products widely available, and of improving the working and living conditions of the average citizen.

Morris’ idea of simplistic design and a return to true craftsmanship found its way into all forms of art, architecture and media, and quickly spread across the world to America and to T.C. and Selma Steele. In building their Brown County home, the Steeles utilized many Arts & Crafts principles of design: use of local materials, a structure dictated by function, a flowing floor plan and decorations created by local and regional craftsmen. Visitors to the T.C. Steele State Historic Site are able to see not only the Arts & Crafts architecture and design of the home, but also a large collection of artifacts including furniture, metalwork, books, textiles and ceramics.

Join us on a journey through the Arts & Crafts Movement and take a peek into the Steeles’ lives and their deliberate design choices. The Arts and Crafts Moments: Simplicity in Design exhibit features three rotations: artifacts currently at the T.C. Steele State Historic Site, objects from the Indiana State Museum collections and items from a private collection. The first rotation continues through April 30 and the second rotation begins May 2.

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