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Currents of Change

Art and Life along the Mississippi River, 1850-1861

2004
Authors:

Jason Busch, Christopher Monkhouse, and Janet Whitmore

Currents of Change

A celebration of the cultural and artistic history of the Mississippi River

Minneapolis Institute of Arts curators Jason Busch and Christopher Monkhouse have culled public and private collections to assemble an exhibition of fine and decorative arts from along the Mississippi River during the period from 1850 to 1861. Currents of Change brings together art in all media, and each of the 150 objects presented demonstrates the development of culture and design along the Mississippi River.

Worthwhile for anyone interested in the history of the Mississippi River valley, but it also shows the exhibited art works as important to the nation and national identity. An important piece of scholarship defining nineteenth-century America.

The Annals of Iowa

Powerful and beautiful, the Mississippi River holds some of the nation's most interesting scenery and treasured history. Although the river had long been a channel for trade, the 1850s marked the transformation of the Mississippi River from a travel route to a vital conduit for cultural, artistic, and architectural ideas from Louisiana to Minnesota.

Minneapolis Institute of Arts curators Jason Busch and Christopher Monkhouse have culled public and private collections to assemble an exhibition of fine and decorative arts from along the river during the period from 1850 to 1861, a time of unprecedented economic and technological change throughout the country. Currents of Change brings together art in all media: paintings, prints, drawings, furniture, silver, ceramics, textiles, and sculpture—many of which have never before been showcased in a national exhibition. Each of the 150 objects presented demonstrates the development of culture and design along the Mississippi River, honoring and preserving the artistic history of the era.

The fully illustrated Currents of Change includes color plates and black-and-white photographs. Monkhouse, Busch, and Janet Whitmore, a freelance art historian, each contribute an essay to the publication. Monkhouse examines the development of America’s artistic identity with the Mississippi River through Longfellow’s “Song of Hiawatha” and “Evangeline.” Busch uses furnishings and portraits by artists like Thomas Sully and Alexander Roux to trace patterns of patronage and decoration along the river. Whitmore explores the Mississippi River landscape, people, and architecture in paintings by artists such as George Caleb Bingham and Henry Lewis.

Distributed for the Minneapolis Institute of Arts

Currents of Change

Jason Busch is assistant curator at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

Christopher Monkhouse is curatorial chair at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

Currents of Change

Worthwhile for anyone interested in the history of the Mississippi River valley, but it also shows the exhibited art works as important to the nation and national identity. An important piece of scholarship defining nineteenth-century America.

The Annals of Iowa

A useful addition to the Mississippi’s literature. Proffers some new scholarship and freshly discovered objects while revealing the persistence of old assumptions.

Minnesota History