Professor Joseph Manca, author of Shaker Vision: Seeing Beauty in Early America (2019), was joined by curator Sarah Margolis-Pineo of the Hancock Shaker Village in Massachusetts for a Zoom virtual book talk on June 18, 2020 to discuss his new publication.
While the Shakers are known for their austerity, the believers enjoyed a diversity of visual pleasures, from flowers and sunsets to waterfalls, waves, and cliffs viewed while traveling across America. In his fascinating new book, Dr. Manca explores original Shaker diaries and travel journals to demonstrate that Shakers enjoyed a remarkably deep experience of the visual world. In addition to their well-known ascetic architecture, furniture, and handicraft styles, they expressed themselves through ornate and detailed spiritual art and in vivid, visionary experiences.
Based on firsthand accounts of the believers themselves, this richly illustrated book dramatically changes how we assess the visual world of this uniquely American religious sect.
Dr. Joseph Manca is Professor of Art History and the Nina J. Cullinan Chair in Art and Art History at Rice University.