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23

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Sltaker Gift Drautings and, Gift Songs Curated by FnaNcr MonIN

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L)NeT: Songbook- Book of 568 numbered, I 888. Compiled by Otis Sawyer West Gloucester, Maine. 486 pages: ink on lined paper, leather-bound. Page size: 8 l/4 x 6 3/4 in. (21 x'17.2 cm). United Society of Shakers, New Gloucester, Maine. Page 2 & 3: A Colbction of Spiritual Songs,Receivedin the Church at Chosen Vale. Written Jor Brothzr Otis Sawyel Praise the Lmd, O Jeruwlm; yraise tLryGod.,O Zim! Psalrc, 1851, ca 1851. Enfield, New Hampshire 32 pages; ink on lined paper, with a marbled-paper cover. Page size: 6 l/2 x 4 in. (16.5 x 10.2 cm). United Society of Shakers, New Gloucestet Maine. Poge 4& 5: Book. O See this pretty bat'..., 1838 or 1840 (?). Anonymous. New Lebanon, New York. 291 pages;inkon paper,leather-bound.Pagessize:6 l/2x4in. (16.5 x 10.2 cm). Western Reserve Historical Societv. Cleveland. Ohio. Poge 6: Songbook. Bookof 568 numbered,1888. Compiled by Otis Sawyer West Gloucester, Maine. 486 pages; ink on lined paper, leather-bound. Page size 8 l/4 x 6 3/4 in. (21 x 17.2 cm). United Society of Shakers, New Gloucestel Maine. Page 7: A Collection of Songsof Variousknds, 1839. Mary Hazard. New Lebanon, New York. 236 pages; ink on lined paper Page size 5 3/8 x 5 l/2 in. (13.7 x 14 cm). Winterthur Library: Joseph Downs Collection of Manuscripts and Printed Ephemera


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The United Society of Believers,or Shakers,originated in England in the mid-eighteenth century and were one of severalautonomous groups seekingto enact a more personal expressionof Christianity.A small number of the Society led by the charismatic leader Ann Lee (1736-1784), known as MotherAnn, came to the United States tn7774 to escapepersecution, and establishedtheir first community in what later became Watervliet, New York. As the name suggests,Shaker believershave historically practiced modes of worship that include ecstatic dancing, singing, and speakingin tongues,yet they have also been shaped by an ongoing belief in the sanctity of labor, sacrifice,and simplicity within a communally structured life. Governed by rigorous rules of conduct, the Shakersnonetheless comprised a remarkably open society,welcoming orphans and others who might otherwise have been subject to neglect or discrimination. By the late 1830s, the Society had grown to include more than five thousand Believers,living in eighteen settlementsfrom Maine to Kentucky, with each settlement comprised of several"families." While the Society'snumbers flourished in first half of the nineteenth century and many of its communities prosperedeconomically,Shaker elders recognizeda growing spiritual crisis: without the benefit of a direct relationship with the original leaders,most prominently Mother Ann, many young Believershad begun to falter in their faith. This crisis led to a period of spiritual revival known as the Era of Manifestations or Mother Ann's Work itS:Z-tSeO), during whlch many Believersexperiencedvisions of heavenlyspirits, including Mother Ann, other early Shaker leaders,biblical personages,and even historical figures such as Christopher Columbus. Known as "instruments," chosen individuals received thousands of such visitations, or "gifts." Frequently,instruments would share their visions with other Believers who carefully transcribed them in the form of drawings, songs, and texts, the last of which were spoken and sung, as well as written. On occasionboth the instrument and the transcriberwere the same individual. About two hundred gift drawings survive; of the sixteen known makers, thirteen are women and three are men. The exhlbiti on Heavenly Visions: Shaker G{t Drawings and Git't Sozgs allows for an immersion in visual expressionsof the Shakersthat might, at first glance, seem at odds with the pared-down designsfor which the group has come to be known. Many of the drawings are comprised of complex yet highly ordered decorativepatterns as if the scribe sought to transmit the vision with the greatestdegreeof clarity; others take the form of spiritual "maps" and a few are free form in nature as if received directly in a state of tiance. Despite the complexity and beauty of their works on paper, the Shakersdid not distinguish the medium of drawing as we know it. Creating renderingsof their visions was simply another spiritual practice, the results of which were referred to, not as drawings, but rather as sheets,rolls, signs, notices, tokens of love, presents,rewards, and heartsoften prefaced by the adjective sacred.Many of the works shown here portray glorious images of heaven intended to demonstrateto Believersthe rewards that would await them by remaining faithful and by living their lives in accordancewith Shaker Precepts. Portraying heaven as an idealized image of the earthly, the gift drawings exemplified the Shakers'view of their community as the Kingdom of God. It is likely that they were kept privately by those to whom they were given or by the spiritual leadership in the Ministry and t he n s h o w n to B e l i e v e rso n s p e ci l i c occasi on. of gift Just as hundreds of gift drawings resulted from Mother Ann's Work, thousands songs-hymns, anthems, marches, and other musical forms-were also received,marking the most prolific song-writingperiod in Shaker history. Songswould typically come in dreams, tiances, or states of possession.Shaker scribes recorded them so that they could be circulated and sung by the community at large. Whether received as a devotional song or transcribed on a sheet as a token of love, the many forms of Shaker gifts remain as testaments to a remarkable flowering of religious inspiration. Several of these gift songs are included here.


This is number z3 of the Drawing Papers,a series of publications documenting The Drawing Center's exhibitions and public programs and providing a forum for the study of drawing. The Drawing Paperspublication series is printed on Monadnock Dulcet roo# Smooth Text and 8o# Dulcet Smooth Cover. ilisioz,s: Ehaker tfeavenly was organized by The Drawing

and. Qift Songs $ift T)rauings Center, NewYork and the UCLA Hammer

The presentation of the exhibition at The Drawing The Henry Luce Foundation.

Museum, Los Angeles.

Center was made possible with the major support of

Additional funding was provided by The Blanchette Hooker Rockefeller Fund; The National Endowmenr for the Arts; Furthermore, a program of The J.M. Kaplan Fund; and the New York State Council on the Arts. The Los Angeles presentation of the exhibition at the UCLA Hammer Sarah-Ann and Werner H. Kramarsky.

Museum has been made possible by

The 2001-2002 seasonof the Drawing Papersis made possible, in part, with public funds from the Visual Arts Program of the New York State Council on the Arts, a state agency.

ro GX

NYStr

Board of Directors Drra Anaony,Ge oncr NrcnopoNrr Co-Chairmen FnaNcrs BsarryAor-rn, Mnlvn Bucrsaeuna,Jaurs M. Cla.nr, Jn., FnarrrcnsDrrrnsn, Cor-rN Erslrn, El-tzesrrH Fecron, Bnucs W. FsncusoN, Mrcnerl lovrruro, WEnNrn H. Knauansxy, Assy LsrcH, Wrlrrau S. LrrsenNaaN,MrcHaEr LyNNe, EI-rzeerrH RouerrN*, Enrc C. RuorN, Dn . Arrsx L ee Ss s s oM s , J eaNNr C. Tuay r n *, E o w a n o H . T u c x , A N o n r e Wo o o N e n Ce rge RrNr o g Znc ns n Executive Director +Emerita

Tsn Dnewrlc CsNrnn 35 WoosterStreet NewYork,I\Y 10013 Tel: 212-219-2166 Fu:212-966-2976 \^l1ry.drawingcenterorg

Designer: Luc Derycke Coordinator: Katie Dyer

@ 2001 The Drawing Center



Heavenly Visions: Shaker Gift Drawings and Gift Songs