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July 4th: The American Experience in American Art
July 3, 2014

Symba Nuruddin, one of our interns at the Luce Foundation Center contributed this post in honor of Independence Day and the American experience in American art.

Two Very American Artworks

Left: Grandad and the Kid, Kansas, 1917 by an unidentified photographer. Right: Preamble by Mike Wilkins.

Tomorrow is the 4th of July! And in today's technological age it has become almost traditional on social media to post holiday specific imagery in celebration of special days. Here at American Art we definitely have no shortage of American imagery that reflects our experiences as a people. Many of the incredible works in the collection are imbued with a sense of American pride and celebrate the American spirit. How can we possibly pick just one to share?

Grandad and the Kid, Kansas, 1917, a photographic print with applied oil color made by an unidentified artist, embodies everything we love about the 4th of July. The important themes of celebration, national pride, and family that are so much a part of the holiday are highlighted in this family photograph. Never the afterthought, the flag is proudly displayed in the foreground of the image in all its glory.

Preamble by Mike Wilkins is currently on display in our first floor galleries. In a show of American ingenuity, Wilkins utilizes an inspired collection of vanity license plates to recreate the preamble in abbreviated script. Each state is represented in alphabetical order. Though the plates rarely make sense on their own, together they recreate one of the greatest documents in American history. This work represents the meaning of the name "the United States" with a fun twist.

These are just a few of my personal favorites for the day. Please feel free to go and pick your own, either by visiting the Smithsonian American Art Museum's Pinterest collection of America themed works or, if you’re in the area, drop by for a visit! (The museum will be open from 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. on July 4.) A happy and safe 4th to all of our readers!!!

Posted by Jeff on July 3, 2014 in American Art Here


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