April 2021 Treasures at the Springfield Museums

The Museums are honored to be able to share pieces from the collections and images from around the Quadrangle in the weekly column Treasures at the Springfield Museums in the Springfield Republican. 

Continue reading to learn what we shared during the month of April, 2021!

Covered Jar by Justin Rothshank
Covered Jar, circa 2016, earthenware by Justin Rothshank (American, born 1979). Gift of Donald Clark, 2018.C01

Spring is upon us! In celebration of the season changing, we are sharing an image of the piece Covered Jar (2016) by Justin Rothshank (American, 20th century). Covered Jar reminds us, here at the Springfield Museums, of the new growth that Spring brings.

A range of media and techniques were used to achieve this delightful jar. The container is made of earthenware and decorated with glaze and floral decals. The top of the jar makes use of wood and metal. In the final result, organic forms and materials are combined with nearly photographic floral motifs.

Justin Rothshank lives and works in Goshen, Indiana and is known for his decaled ceramics. Covered Jar is not currently on view at the Museums.

Maple Syrup Bottle, circa 1885, George D. Powell, Hampshire County, Massachusetts. Gift of Alan Raymond, 90.358

Maple syrup season takes place between the months of February and April, and is marked by lidded tapping buckets hanging from trees.  Pictured here is a square, greenish, molded glass maple syrup bottle, circa 1885, with inset panels on each side.

The front panel retains its paper label which, typographically, would appear to date from the mid-1880s. It is remarkable that the paper label has survived so long, and it is worth noting that the bottle would be of little interest without it. The front label of the bottle is lithographed by Boell of New York in yellow, red, green and black and reads:  “Pure/Maple/Syrup/Superior Quality/Made in/ Hampshire County, / Mass. /Put Up/For/Family/and/Hotel Use/By/Geo. D. Powell.” Few early bottles survive with their paper labels intact or with color, making this bottle rare!

Color lithography exploded in America in the mid-19th century, and by 1870 was widely used in commerce to promote everything from household goods, to medicine, to farm equipment.

Flower arrangement created by Laura Ludwig for Festival of Flowers, 2021.

Art offers us a way to reflect on and interpret how we are feeling.

During Festival of Flowers at the Springfield Museums (April 8-11), Laura Ludwig shared this flower arrangement to express her feelings during the pandemic. She wrote: “We have a collection of small vases on the kitchen windowsill which my husband and I fill with flowers all year round. The most amazing amount of joy has come from the vases and the precious small blooms from our own garden. They are the thoughtful gifts that we gather and leave for ourselves or each other, all spring and summer… it is always a reminder to stop, go outside and enjoy.”

The Museums treasure the opportunity to display art inspired by strong feelings such as those evoked by our collective experience during the pandemic.

Trailblazer (A Dream Deferred) by Genevieve Gaignard, inkjet print, 2017. Collection of the artist, courtesy of Vielmetter Los Angeles © Genevieve Gaignard
Trailblazer (A Dream Deferred) by Genevieve Gaignard, inkjet print, 2017. Collection of the artist, courtesy of Vielmetter Los Angeles © Genevieve Gaignard

The Springfield Museums is excited to share a piece from the special exhibit The Outwin: American Portraiture Today, currently on display at the D’ Amour Museum of Fine Arts. This breathtaking exhibition aims to advance the art of portraiture for future generations while encouraging visitors to empathize and locate meaningful connections.

Genevieve Gaignard (American, born 1981) has used self-portraiture to explore race, cultural identity, and femininity. Referencing regional historical events, she creates and performs characters that are partly symbolic and partly autobiographical.

Featured here is Trailblazer (A Dream Deferred) (2017). In this inkjet print, Gaignard presents a woman in nineteenth-century clothing walking with purpose through a lush tropical landscape. The woman carries a portrait of two men: John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. Gaignard imagines Traiblazer as a woman from the past who has found an image of racial solidarity and is bringing it back to her contemporaries as a sign of hope from the future. In her own words, “The trailblazer is setting the path for something new to move forward.” Gaignard borrows the phrase “A Dream Deferred” from Langston Hughes’ poem “Harlem” (1951), a meditation on hopes that have not yet been fulfilled.