Developed in collaboration with Speed Art Museum, South Union Shaker Village and the Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill, Careful, Neat & Decent draws together over 50 objects produced by and for the South Union and Pleasant Hill Shakers. Along with furniture—the most familiar Shaker legacy—the exhibition explores other corners of Shaker production like textiles, hats and bonnets, vegetable seeds, preserves, and hymn writing. The exhibition also shares the intersectional stories of the Shaker experience, including those of women, of African Americans, and of orphans.
The Kentucky Shakers of Pleasant Hill and South Union, most active from the early 1800s through the nineteenth century, expressed and reinforced their deeply held faith through worship and through work. Along with buildings and landscapes, they channeled their faith in work into objects and enterprises that were both practical and creative. Careful, Neat & Decent explores the Kentucky Shaker’s wide-ranging creative endeavors. From handsome furniture and shimmering silks to inspirational hymns and popular fruit preserves, Kentucky’s Shakers left behind a remarkable history of making—one forged within communal groups that required celibacy, empowered women leaders, and possessed conflicting attitudes about race in the midst of slavery.
We are indebted to the Speed's Scott Erbes, Curator of Decorative Arts and Design, and to the curatorial staff at South Union and Pleasant Hill, for this important addition to Kentucky Shaker scholarship.
The exhibit is on display now through January 3, 2021 at the Speed Art Museum - North Building, 2nd floor