Melissa Wolfe, Curator of American art at the St. Louis Art Museum, stopped by to talk about the new exhibition, Art Along the Rivers, which runs October 3rd, 2021 until January 9th, 2022. Other happenings at the museum are also discussed.
Melissa Wolfe joined the Art Museum in 2015 as curator and head of the Department of American Art. She oversaw an extensive reinterpretation of the museum’s American art galleries that opened in 2016.
Melissa previously was curator of American art at the Columbus Museum of Art, where she has worked for 14 years on a succession of important exhibitions, catalogues and collection development. Her projects “George Bellows and the American Experience” (2013), “George Tooker: A Retrospective” (2008) and “In Monet’s Garden: The Lure of Giverny” (2007) were awarded significant funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Henry Luce Foundation and Terra Foundation for American Art.
Wolfe received undergraduate degrees from Stephens College in Columbia, Mo., and a master’s degree and doctorate in the history of art at The Ohio State University, where she also served as adjunct professor.
In conjunction with the 200th anniversary of Missouri’s statehood, Art Along the Rivers: A Bicentennial Celebration explores the remarkable artwork produced and collected over 1,000 years in the region surrounding St. Louis. The exhibition presents more than 150 objects from Missouri as far north as Hannibal, west to Hermann, and south through the Old Mines area. It also encompasses the Illinois region along the eastern bank of the Mississippi River, from Cairo north through Carbondale and Alton. Although the region that has shaped the exhibition’s objects is small, it has played an outsize role in the history of North America due to the confluence of powerful rivers and major trails and routes within its borders.
Art Along the Rivers includes a surprising range of objects that vary widely in medium, function, and the prominence of their makers. For example, it brings together Mississippian sculpture, Osage textiles, architectural drawings for iconic landmarks, musical instruments, German and Creole furniture, African American decorative arts, prize-winning paintings from the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair, and contemporary artists’ responses to these historic objects. While at first these works might appear to have few connections, the exhibition arranges them by theme rather than by culture or chronology to establish dialogues around the region’s geography, raw materials, and pressing social issues.
The exhibition is curated by Melissa Wolfe, curator of American art, and Amy Torbert, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Assistant Curator of American Art.
Joe Jones 1909-1963 We Demand, 1934 Oil on Canvas 48x36
Attributed to Anna Jane Parker, American, c.1841–1918; “Quilt Top, Pieced Log Cabin”, 1875-1900
Podcast Curator and Editor: Jon Valley with Technical Support by Mid Coast Media