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Art professor writes foreward for “The Richmond Group Artists”

June 12, 2014

A newly published book, The Richmond Group Artists, highlights 19th century Richmond as a center for art with a focus on the role of Quakerism and Earlham College in the local art movement.

Julia May, associate professor of Art History and curator of Earlham Art, wrote the introduction to the book. May identifies “simplicity, silence, and light” as the qualities of the artistic style that embodied a sense of “Quaker sensibility.” She describes the impressionist style as “historical” and “literal,” which distinguished Richmond art from places as close as Indianapolis during the late 1800s.

While many of Richmond’s impressionist artists’ names are not well known, the unique artistic style of the area make this an important area of scholarship, explains author Shaun Thomas Dingwerth.

Despite the controversy amongst Quakers about the superficiality of art, they contributed greatly to the Richmond art movement. Quakers established the Richmond Art Association, now the Richmond Art Museum (RAM). Edward Hicks, a noteworthy Quaker artist, painted Peaceable Kingdom of the Branch (1826).

The book explains how “the early formation of educational institutions, such as Earlham College in 1847, set a tone for learning about art, music, and literature.” John Elwood Bundy, one of Indiana’s great native artists, became the first head of Earlham’s art department in 1888. 

Earlham also contributed to the book through sponsorship and by providing photos of artists as well as paintings from the art collection. Other contributors include: Thomas Hamm, curator of the Quaker Collection and director of Special Collections; Anne Thomason, former college archivist; and Carmina Maldonado, curatorial assistant.

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Earlham College, a national liberal arts college located in Richmond, Indiana, is a "College That Changes Lives." We expect our students to be fully present: to think rigorously, value directness and genuineness, and actively seek insights from differing perspectives. The values we practice at Earlham are rooted in centuries of Quaker tradition, but they also constitute the ideal toolkit for contemporary success. Earlham is one of only 40 national liberal arts colleges ranked among U.S. News and World Reports' "Great Schools at a Great Price."

Brian Zimmerman is director of media relations at Earlham College. He can be reached at 765-983-1256 and zimmebr@earlham.edu.

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