Deanna Storm, Docent, Gilcrease Museum (March 2019)
With immigration being a subject very much in the forefront of the current American dialogue, Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa, Oklahoma, has added a unique perspective to this dialogue through an exhibition drawn from the museum’s permanent collection.
The exhibition showcases the many positive contributions that immigrants have made, and continue to make, to American life and culture. It includes more than 50 works of art (paintings and sculpture) celebrating more than 200 years of American art by 26 immigrant artists. Included are works by John James Audubon (Haiti), Albert Bierstadt (Germany), Leon Gaspard (Russia), Emanuel Leutze (Germany) Thomas Moran (England), Augustus Saint-Gaudens (Ireland), Jules Tavernier (France), and Olaf Wieghorst (Denmark), as well as other artists. Several themes are explored through the eyes of immigrant artists, including American Faces, American Places, American Wildlife, Native Americans, American Cowboys, and American Manifest Destiny.
The title for the exhibition, Americans All!, was inspired by a World War I poster (in the Gilcrease collection) by Howard Chandler Christy celebrating the contribution to that war effort by Americans from many ethnic backgrounds.
Americans All, 1919, H. C. Christy; Liberty Loan Campaign; Gilcrease Museum TL.2018.16
The exhibition has been given a contemporary twist by inclusion of works by immigrant artists currently living and working in the Tulsa area.
Docent training material targeting 4th grade and older audiences was prepared by a development team comprised of docents, curators and education department staff. More information about this ongoing exhibition may be found at www.gilcrease.org.