Supernatural America:
The Paranormal in American Art

Supernatural America: The Paranormal in American Art

October 7, 2021 – January 2, 2022
North Building, 3rd Floor Special Exhibition

Supernatural America examines the artwork that has shaped our collective imagination of the supernatural and paranormal and asks why America is haunted. Ghosts of a violent US history, whether Native American genocide, slavery, or the Civil War, remain unsettled and periodically resurface to make the present face the past. In intimate moments of mourning, the will to make contact with spirits of the dead drove cultures of mediumship, new ritual practices, and a popular culture around Spiritualism. Artists have been integral to visualizing these ghosts, whether national or personal, and in doing so have embraced the mysterious and unexplained. In the twentieth century, anxieties about technology, atomic weapons, and the trauma of war inspired ideas about worlds beyond a troubled America. This exhibition explores the numerous ways artists in the U.S. made sense of their own experiences of the paranormal and supernatural, and in doing so developed a rich visual culture of the intangible.

A broad range of artists have engaged this subject matter, which often grew out of their personal experience, religious practices, and scientific pursuits. Spanning a chronology of the early 19th century through the present, Supernatural America will include approximately 125 objects from artists as diverse as America itself, featuring paintings, drawings, sketchbooks, prints, photographs, furniture, clothing and textiles, video, scientific instruments, and mediumistic/occult paraphernalia. From Native American spiritual traditions to the Salem Witch Trials to Afrofuturism, the exhibition tracks this country’s complex and complicated relationship to the otherworldly. Most importantly, the exhibition will include well-known artists and objects alongside artists who will be new to art historical analysis, never before included in museum exhibitions of American art.

This exhibition is organized by the Minneapolis Institute of Art and has been made possible in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Terra Foundation for American Art, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this exhibition do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

                        

Support for this exhibition provided by:
The Ford Foundation
Alan and Shelly Ann Kamei
David A. Jones, Jr. and Mary Gwen Wheeler
Media sponsorship from:
Support for contemporary exhibitions comes from:
Augusta and Gill Holland
Exhibition season sponsored by: 
Cary Brown and Steven E. Epstein
Paul and Deborah Chellgren
Debra and Ronald Murphy