Americana Insights is a nonprofit publication dedicated to the study of Americana and American folk art. It was founded in 2021 by Jane Katcher in collaboration with David A. Schorsch, her longtime friend and mentor in the field, founding editor Robert Shaw, and a distinguished advisory board of museum professionals and scholars. In 2023, curator and scholar Lisa Minardi was appointed editor of Americana Insights.
The mission of Americana Insights is to inspire, extend, and enhance appreciation and knowledge of traditional American folk art and Americana among new and longtime collectors, students, scholars, and the general public.
To achieve these goals, we will:
- For scholars and writers: Encourage and support new research on traditional American folk art and Americana created from the Colonial era to the early twentieth century, which we intend to publish on our website.
- Publish research queries and other requests for information.
- For our audience: Provide free access to our scholarly e-journal and resource center, thereby making new research and related information available to anyone with an interest in traditional American folk art and Americana.
- Offer information about exhibitions, symposia, and special events that present and interpret these subjects.
- Establish and maintain relationships and affiliations with scholars and institutions whose activities relate to our mission.
Jane Katcher has collected American folk art and Americana for forty years, and Americana Insights is a natural outgrowth of her deep interest in supporting education and research about these objects and their makers and users.
Nearly 300 objects from her collection were documented in Expressions of Innocence and Eloquence: Selections from the Jane Katcher Collection of Americana, Vol. I & II published in 2006 and 2011, and special exhibitions at the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT ( 2007), and the Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, NY (2011) each showed a sampling of the collection.
Noting how her interests have evolved over the years, Jane has explained: “Rather than seeing each object in aesthetic isolation, I [now] find myself intrigued by how these works were used and appreciated in their original contexts. This curiosity has become increasingly important to my collecting efforts… which place an emphasis on new discoveries about the makers or owners for whom individual works of art were created.”
David A. Schorsch, who was born into a family of antiques collectors and dealers, is recognized as one of the world’s leading authorities on American antiques and folk art, especially folk paintings and sculpture, formal and country furniture, and Shaker design. He places particular emphasis on scholarship, and his research, lectures, and writings, which include co-authorship of the extensive catalog portions of Expressions of Innocence and Eloquence: Selections from the Jane Katcher Collection of Americana, Vol. I & II, have expanded and enriched the core reference information available in the field.
David and his mother, the late Peggy Schorsch, were instrumental in advising Ralph Esmerian in building his landmark collection of American folk art, and many significant works have passed through his hands into other major private and public collections, including those of the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum, the American Folk Art Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago, the High Museum, Historic Deerfield, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Milwaukee Art Museum, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Shelburne Museum, the Yale University Art Gallery, and Winterthur.
Editor of Americana Insights, Lisa Minardi is a distinguished curator and scholar of Pennsylvania German art and culture. She has organized numerous exhibitions and published extensively. Assistant curator at Winterthur Museum from 2006 to 2016, Minardi serves as executive director of Historic Trappe and the Center for Pennsylvania German Studies.
Lisa is currently a PhD candidate in the History of American Civilization Program at the University of Delaware, where she is researching the German-speaking community of early Philadelphia for her dissertation. She holds an MA from the Winterthur Program in Early American Culture and a BA in history and museum studies from Ursinus College.
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Laura Pass Barry
The Juli Grainger Curator of Paintings, Drawings, and Sculpture, Colonial Williamsburg, Williamsburg, Virginia
Laura oversees the research, documentation, interpretation, and exhibition of fine, folk, and decorative arts paintings and sculpture at the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum, DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum, historic area exhibit buildings, and Bassett Hall. She holds degrees in Art History and American Studies from the College of Wooster and the College of William and Mary. She has organized numerous exhibitions at Williamsburg, most recently including The Art of Edward Hicks (2020), Artists on the Move: Portraits for a New Nation (2018), We the People: American Folk Portraits (2017), and America’s Folk Art (2017). She was a contributing author to: Flying Free: Twentieth-Century Self-Taught Art from the Collection of Ellin and Baron Gordon (1997), winner of the 1998 Independent Publisher Book Award, and The Kingdoms of Edward Hicks (1999); editor of Revolution & Evolution: Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum (2017); and is co-editor of a forthcoming book highlighting the American folk art collections at Colonial Williamsburg.
President and CEO, Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, New York
Paul has written and co-authored numerous articles and several acclaimed books on American folk art, including Ralph Fassanella’s America and Folk Art's Many Faces; lectured widely on various aspects of folk art and interpretation; and curated exhibitions in the United States and Europe. He holds a Ph.D. in American and New England Studies from Boston University, an M.A. in Museum Studies from the Cooperstown Graduate Program at State University college, Oneonta, New York, and a B.A. in English from SUNY, Cortland. He has been an Adjunct Professor of American Art and American Folk Art at the Cooperstown Graduate Program since 1984 and was appointed to his current position at the Fenimore in 2011.
Alyce Perry Englund
Associate Curator of American Decorative Arts, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
Alyce joined the t Met's American Wing in 2015 and oversees the seventeenth- to early nineteenth-century furniture collections. Previously, she worked at the Wadsworth Atheneum; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; and Historic New England (SPNEA). She received her M.A. from the Winterthur Program in American material culture, a BA in art history from the University of Vermont, and is an alumna of The Attingham Study Programme. She has organized exhibitions on topics such as decorative arts from Connecticut, poetry and art, and the Civil War, and has published scholarship on japanned furniture, Connecticut's Federal Era cabinetmakers, and folk art. At The Met, she curated Simple Gifts: Shaker Art at the Met (2016-17) and co-curated Chippendale's Director: The Designs and Legacy of a Furniture Maker (May 2018 through January 2019).
Robin Jaffee Frank
Independent curator and writer and adjunct faculty at The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York City
Previously, Robin served as Director of Artistic Initiatives and Vice Chair of the Board, Silvermine Arts Center, New Canaan, CT; Chief Curator and Curator of American Paintings and Sculpture at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, CT; and Senior Associate Curator of American Paintings and Sculpture at the Yale University Art Gallery. She has organized numerous exhibitions throughout the United States, lectured extensively, and published widely on American visual culture. She recently contributed to the book Becoming America: Highlights from the Jonathan and Karin Fielding Collection of Folk Art, and curated World War I Beyond the Trenches at the New-York Historical Society in 2017. While at the Wadsworth, Robin organized the traveling exhibition Coney Island: Visions of an American Dreamland, 1861–2008, authored the show's award-winning book, and also curated a version of the exhibition to tour until 2022. While at Yale, Robin co-organized Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness: American Art from the Yale University Art Gallery; curated and authored Love and Loss: American Portrait and Mourning Miniatures and Charles Demuth Poster Portraits: 1923–1929; and mentored graduate student fellows from a variety of academic disciplines. Robin holds a Ph.D. and M.A. in the History of Art from Yale University and a B.A. in Fine Arts (Studio) and English and American Literature from Brandeis University.
Curator of Folk Art, American Folk Art Museum, New York
Often looking at earlier material through the lens of twentieth-century histories of collecting and collective memory, Emelie's work encompasses research interests in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century American decorative painting, portraiture, African American material culture and representation, and the Colonial Revival movement. She received her BA in art history and theater studies from Yale University and her MA from the Winterthur Program in American Material Culture. Emelie previously held positions at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and at Christie’s, New York, where she was a Vice President in the Estates, Appraisals & Valuations department. She is currently a doctoral candidate in the art history department at the University of Delaware, where her work has been supported by an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Curatorial Track PhD Fellowship. Her dissertation is entitled “Unseen New England: Identity & Exclusion in the Landscapes of the 18th-Century Interior.” Considering race and the construction of social hierarchy through a trans-temporal study of some of the region's earliest vernacular images, her project investigates the intertwined forces of predominantly white New England memory-making and the forgetting of Black and Native peoples and their histories.
Jerry V. Grant
Director of Collections and Research, Shaker Museum
Jerry wrote the forward to The Shaker Chair by Charles R. Muller and Timothy D. Rieman, co-authored Shaker Furniture Makers with Douglas R. Allen and Shaker: Function - Purity - Perfection with David Stocks, authored Noble But Plain: The Shaker Meetinghouse at Mount Lebanon, and contributed to The Shakers: From Mount Lebanon to the World.
Stacy C. Hollander
Independent curator and writer
Previously Deputy Director of Curatorial Affairs, Chief Curator, and Director of Exhibitions, American Folk Art Museum, New York, where she began her museum career in 1985. During her thirty-four year tenure at the AFAM, stacy coordinated more than 200 exhibitions and curated more than fifty original exhibitions, including The Seduction of Light: Mark Rothko / Ammi Phillips Compositions in Pink, Green and Red (2008), Asa Ames: Occupation Sculpturing (2008), Women Only (2011), Self-Taught Genius (with Valérie Rousseau, 2013–16), Securing the Shadow: Posthumous Portraiture in America (2016), and Charting the Divine Plan: The Art of Orra White Hitchcock (2018). Both the exhibition and piublication Securing the Shadow were honored with First Place Awards of Excellence by the Association of Art Museum Curators Foundation, while Charting the Divine Plan was the winner of the Victorian Society of New York award. She was also project coordinator of Infinite Variety: Three Centuries of Red and White Quilts (2011) and has authored several other books, including (with contributors) American Radiance: The Ralph Esmerian Gift to the American Folk Art Museum (2001). Stacy holds a B.A. in English, art history, and studio art from Barnard College and an M.A. in American Folk Art Studies from New York University.
Sharon Duane Koomler
Independent curator and author and proprietor of the Grant House Press, a traditional letterpress shop in East Chatham, New York
Previously Sharon served as Curator and Director of the Museum at Shaker Museum and Library, Old Chatham, New York; Curator of Collections at Hancock Shaker Village in Pittsfield Massachusetts; and Director of Education at the Shaker Museum at South Union, Kentucky, Sharon holds an M.A. in Folklore and Historic Preservation from Western Kentucky University and a B.A. in Folklore from Indiana University, Bloomington. She has lectured and written extensively about the life, beliefs, and works of the Shakers, and is the author of Shaker Style: Form, Function, and Furniture and Seen and Received : The Shakers' Private Art.
Consulting researcher and writer, The Chipstone Foundation, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Previously, Richard served as Co-curator of the Boston Atheneum and Curator of Sculpture and Decorative Arts at the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Center at Colonial Williamsburg. He holds an M.A. in Museum Studies from the Cooperstown Graduate Program at State University college, Oneonta, New York, and a B.A. in Film from Columbia College in Chicago. He has lectured and written widely on American furniture, ceramics, and folk art: he wrote the introduction to A Shared Legacy: Folk Art in America; contributed to American Naive Paintings, Folk Art's Many Faces, The Encyclopedia of New England, The Encyclopedia of American Folk Art, and both volumes of Expressions of Eloquence and Innocence: Selections from the Jane Katcher Collection of Americana; and published articles about the impact of photography on folk portraiture and the painter Sheldon Peck.
Mark D. Mitchell
The Holcombe T. Green Curator of American Paintings and Sculpture at the Yale University Art Gallery
Mark came to Yale from the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where he served as Associate Curator of American Art and Manager of the Center for American Art and organized and wrote the exhibition catalogues for Audubon to Warhol: The Art of American Still Life (2015) and George Inness in Italy (2011). He also was a co-curator of Art across America, a comprehensive survey of American art held at the National Museum of Korea in Seoul that was organized in partnership with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and the Terra Foundation for American Art., He previously worked at the Princeton University Art Museum, the Hood Museum of Art at Dartmouth College, and the National Academy Museum in New York. He holds a doctorate in American art from Princeton University and completed his undergraduate work at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
Independent scholar, author, and curator
The founding editor of Americana Insights, Robert Shaw is an independent curator and art historian whose many critically acclaimed books include America’s Traditional Crafts (1993), The Art Quilt (1997), American Baskets (2000), Bird Decoys of North America: Nature, History, and Art (2010), American Quilts: The Democratic Art (2013) and American Weathervanes: The Art of the Winds (2021).
Bob has also curated exhibitions at the Dallas Museum of Natural History, the Fenimore Art Museum, the National Gallery of Art, and the Shelburne Museum, where he served as curator from 1981 to 1994; contributed essays and articles to numerous books, exhibition catalogs, and periodicals and lectured at the Baltimore Museum of Art, the de Young Museum of Fine Arts, the University of Michigan Art Museum, and dozens of other institutions; edited books for Sterling, Hal Leonard, and other publishers; and served as a consultant to Sotheby’s auction house and museums across the country.
President Emeritus, Historic Deerfield, Deerfield, Massachusetts.
Previously, Phil was Vice President for Museums and Collections at the SPNEA in Boston (now Historic New England), Curator of Furniture at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, and worked at Historic Deerfield for eighteen years, rising to Deputy Director and Chief Curator. A New Hampshire native, he holds degrees from Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut, and the Winterthur Program in Early American Culture at the University of Delaware. Phil is the 2009 recipient of the Award of Merit from the Antiques Dealers’ Association of America and the 2017 President’s Award at Old Sturbridge Village, where he began his career in 1974. He has consulted for many museums on early furniture, clocks, engraved powder hors, and historic interpretation, and lectured and written extensively on these topics. His most recent book Rich and Tasty: Vermont Furniture to 1850 (2015), written with Jean Burks for the Shelburne Museum, won the 2016 Honor Book Award from Historic New England.