2024–2025 William H. Helfand Fellow in American Visual Culture

Caroline Murray Culp, Warren Family Assistant Curator, American Folk Art Museum
The Sign in the Painting: Site-Specificity in Edward Hicks’s Peaceable Kingdoms

Dr. Caroline Murray Culp is the Warren Family Assistant Curator at the American Folk Art Museum in New York City. Her project “The Sign in the Painting: Site-Specificity in Edward Hicks’s Peaceable Kingdoms” reconsiders the creative practice of Bucks County, Pennsylvania Quaker sign and carriage painter Edward Hicks (1780-1849). She examines Hicks’s Peaceable Kingdom series as evidence of Hick’s deliberate and avant-garde use of signboard painting aesthetics. Culp explores connections between “high” and “low” art and the vernacular message about place, space, and time embodied and communicated in the visual elements of Hicks’s works. In her reassessment of Hicks as a generative artist, Culp studied a range of graphic and textual materials, many related to sign painting(s), as well as early landscape prints of Pennsylvania, antebellum-era lithographic advertising views of storefronts, and animal imagery as represented in 19th-century children’s primers and rewards of merit. Popular prints of iterations of Benjamin West’s Penn’s Treaty with the Indians and fraktur also comprised the graphic holdings that Culp reviewed.