Spiritual Spectacles

Spiritual Spectacles

Vision and Image in Mid-nineteenth-century Shakerism

eBook - 1993
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Ingram Publishing Services

"Promey’s book is a penetrating analysis of Shaker art.... The book is a gem, a true advance in Shaker studies, art history, religious history, and cultural history. Highly recommended." —Choice

"... a very intelligent and articulate... treatment of a stunning set of message-images." —Art Bulletin

"This book is a pleasure to look at and to read." —Religious Studies Review

"[A] fascinating investigation into another world. The Shaker spirit drawings... offer clues into a remarkable moment of American life, as well as an opportunity to rethink just how the visual arts, religious revitalizations, and social memory relate to one another.... [A] model study: clear, absorbing, and significant." —Neil Harris, author of The Artist in American Society

"Sally Promey’s inquiry... critically engages current issues in the study of visual culture: what do images do; how do they work; what needs do they fulfill; just what is their ‘power’? Her compelling case study joins fundamental concerns of art historians with those of students of religion and history... By means of an exacting examination of Shaker drawings as the site of both expectation and encounter, Promey successfully situates these Spiritual Spectacles at the meeting point of the ‘inner’ and the ‘outer’ eye." —Linda Seidel, author of Jan van Eyck’s Arnolfini Portrait: Stories of an Icon

"Promey has brought to her work an excellent sensitivity to the religious issues involved, keen sight and powers of observation, and a very creative interpretive framework." —Stephen J. Stein, author of The Shaker Experience in America



Blackwell North Amer
Among the lesser known artifacts of Shakerism are many elaborate drawings and paintings produced under inspiration between 1839 and 1859. In a community which generally prohibited images, believers intended these exceptional religious pictures to enhance spiritual vision; the images thus functioned as "spiritual spectacles." In depictions of celestial places, objects, and people, viewers could see spiritual things as though possessing "corrected" spiritual sight. Spiritual Spectacles explores this neglected but illuminating aspect of Shaker visual culture.
By 1837, an increasingly troublesome sense of distance from charismatic founder Ann Lee (1736-84) and her immediate converts permeated Shaker experience. In format, conception, and composition, Shaker images addressed this situation, restoring relationships by providing visual access to the Shaker "heavenly sphere" and its inhabitants. Artfully navigating the official proscription of images, visionary paintings and drawings became powerful religious resources.
Sally M. Promey submits these remarkable products of Shaker revival to careful and sustained visual analysis and locates them firmly in the appropriate religious and cultural contexts. She traces the movement from vision to image within Shaker spirituality and demonstrates the essential connection between visionary experience and visual image. She explains how Shaker image-makers attempted to reconnect the earthly community with heaven and its inhabitants and to restore the zeal and personalities of earlier times. Furthermore, she suggests that Shaker reservations about pictures intensified and made explicit the usually veiled but nonetheless consistent anti-iconic impulses that punctuate American cultural history. Within communal borders and on their own terms, Shakers participated in an ongoing national debate about the relationship between ethics and aesthetics, morality and beauty, religion and art.
A significant contribution to the study of Shaker images and the culture(s) which produced them, Spiritual Spectacles adds an important voice to the interdisciplinary dialogue between the history of art and the history of religion.

Indiana University Press

"Promey’s book is a penetrating analysis of Shaker art.... The book is a gem, a true advance in Shaker studies, art history, religious history, and cultural history. Highly recommended." —Choice

"... a very intelligent and articulate... treatment of a stunning set of message-images." —Art Bulletin

"This book is a pleasure to look at and to read." —Religious Studies Review

"[A] fascinating investigation into another world. The Shaker spirit drawings... offer clues into a remarkable moment of American life, as well as an opportunity to rethink just how the visual arts, religious revitalizations, and social memory relate to one another.... [A] model study: clear, absorbing, and significant."Â —Neil Harris, author of The Artist in American Society

"Sally Promey’s inquiry... critically engages current issues in the study of visual culture: what do images do; how do they work; what needs do they fulfill; just what is their ‘power’? Her compelling case study joins fundamental concerns of art historians with those of students of religion and history... By means of an exacting examination of Shaker drawings as the site of both expectation and encounter, Promey successfully situates these Spiritual Spectacles at the meeting point of the ‘inner’ and the ‘outer’ eye." —Linda Seidel, author of Jan van Eyck’s Arnolfini Portrait: Stories of an Icon

"Promey has brought to her work an excellent sensitivity to the religious issues involved, keen sight and powers of observation, and a very creative interpretive framework."Â —Stephen J. Stein, author of The Shaker Experience in America



Publisher: Bloomington, Ind. : Indiana University Press, c1993
ISBN: 9780585225760
0585225761
0253346142
Characteristics: 1 online resource (xxiv, 292 p.) : ill. (some col.)

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