Save the American Folk Art Museum!

After yesterday’s article in the New York Times covering the dissolution of the American Folk Art Museum, I felt compelled to start this petition to raise awareness about the immeasurable value of this museum and its collection.

This past May in New York City, the American Folk Art Museum sold its W. 53rd St. building to its neighbor, the Museum of Modern Art. After a recent relocation to a smaller space at Lincoln Center, the museum trustees are now considering dissolving the museum and collection completely and disbursing the works to other museums.

We, the undersigned, as Americans and as citizens of the global community, demand that this collection of rich cultural heritage remain intact as a tribute to the unique history of our people, our country, and for the benefit of current and future generations.

In a museum world dominated by money and fame, AFAM has given a strong voice to Americans who are often overlooked and underappreciated. This collection contains incredible works of art and craft by the underrepresented, the outsiders, the self-taught, the poor, the immigrants, the slaves, the women, and the disabled.

It would be an utter shame to dismantle the Museum and its collection.The AFAM has been supporting folk and outsider artists for the past 50 years and has developed a collection of undeniable importance and value in cultural, art historical, and contemporary art contexts. These works give us a rare glimpse into creative individuals’ lives and communities; they offer us insight into specific periods of American history; and provide endless inspiration for contemporary art practices around the globe.

The work of Andy Warhol, Pablo Picasso, Wassily Kandinsky, and Paul Klee were all deeply touched by folk art. Dadaism, Expressionism, Abstraction, and Modernism were heavily influenced by the rawness of works by self-taught artists. In the past twenty years there has been a steady folk influence on lowbrow art, the Mission School, and DIY culture, including the Etsy-fueled handicraft revival and Americana-inspired trends of Pendleton, Levi's, canning and pickling. Contemporary artists like Allison Smith and Harrell Fletcher are working hands-on with current folk and outsider art communities that play an integral role in their art practice.

Despite this obvious influence, the future of the the Museum and its collections is unknown. In the spirit of our ancestors before us, we must take a stand, “do-it-ourselves,” and with the support of our communities we must fight to preserve this cultural gem. It is the least we can do as a testament to the hard work and creativity of our ancestors that has provided us with so much inspiration over the years.

Thank you for your time, understanding, and courage.
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