The Index of American Design was one of the most significant undertakings of the Federal Art Project -- the visual arts arm of the Works Progress Administration. Part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal, this ambitious initiative set out to discover and document an authentic American style in everyday objects. The curators of the Index combed the country for art of the machine age -- from carved carousel horses to engraved powder horns to woven coverlets -- created by artisans for practical use. In their search for a true American artistic identity, they also sought furniture designed by regional craftsmen laboring in isolation from European traditions. Kentucky by Design offers the first comprehensive examination of the objects from the Bluegrass State featured in this historic venture. It showcases a wide array of offerings, including architecture, furniture, ceramics, musical instruments, textiles, clothing, and glass- and metalworks. The Federal Art Project played an important role in documenting and preserving the work of Shaker artists from the Pleasant Hill and South Union communities, and their creations are exhibited in this illuminating catalog. Beautifully illustrated with both the original watercolor depictions and contemporary, art-quality photographs of the works, this book is a lavish exploration of the Commonwealth's distinctive contribution to American culture and modern design.
Features contributions from Jean M. Burks, Erika Doss, Jerrold Hirsch, Lauren Churilla, Larrie Currie, Michelle Ganz, Tommy Hines, Lee Kogan, Ron Pen, Janet Rae, Shelly Zegart, Mel Hankla, Philippe Chavance, Kate Hesseldenz, Madeleine Burnside, and Allan Weiss.
" Kentucky by Design provides unique and valuable study into an important chapter in both United States and Kentucky design history. As a research tool for professionals and students alike, this work will both inform and deepen understandings of the purpose behind assembling a national collection such as this, and how the spirit of 'Americanism' was interpreted by various regions of the country." -- Timothy Glotzbach, director of craft programs at Berea College
" Kentucky by Design will be of interest to those studying Kentucky history as well as folk studies, anthropology, political science/government, museum studies, historic preservation/public history, and cultural studies. The essays in the book touch broadly upon many timely subjects, such as regionalism and cultural intervention." -- Amanda Fickey, Assistant Professor of Intercultural Geography & Coordinator of Appalachian Studies at Union College
"Kelly has opened the door for the FAP's [Federal Art Project] original vision to finally be realized in its entirety and showcase uniquely American design to the nation." -- Broadway World
"This book is an invitation for making your own connections, within the pages and within the broad context of American folk arts." -- Maine Antique Digest
"Layers of Kentucky history unfold in the illustrations of ingeniously designed everyday objects in this luxurious volume. The accompanying essays disclose stories of their provenance and purpose. Together, they focus in to reveal something about a uniquely American design during the centuries leading up to the early 1900s." -- Lexington Herald-Leader
" Kentucky by Design: The Decorative Arts and American Culture offers the first comprehensive examination of the objects from the Commonwealth featured in the Index of American Design as part of the Federal Art Project. Using more than 200 color photos and illustrations, it showcases a wide array of offerings, including architecture, furniture, ceramics, musical instruments, textiles, clothing, and glass and metal works. Edited by Andrew Kelly, [it] provides unique and valuable study into an important chapter in both United States and Kentucky design history." -- UKNow
" Kentucky by Design is the first comprehensive examination of the objects from the Bluegrass State featured in this historic venture.... this book creates a revealing portrait of the region's contribution to American culture and modern design" -- Collectors News
"The photographs and drawings included in this book are exquisite. This book stands as an essential piece of Kentucky art history." -- Kentucky Library Association
"A meticulous and comprehensive exploration of one state's contributions to the Index of American Design, Kentucky by Design: The Decorative Arts and American Culture sets an example of worth following.... Beautifully designed and thoughtfully organized [...] an excellent resource for those interested in American decorative arts." -- West Virginia History
"Elegantly designed, lavishly illustrated in both color and black and white, and printed on quality coated paper, this young museum's ambitious publication promises to draw admirers." -- Winterthur Portfolio
"At first glance, Kentucky by Design is a beautiful and impressive book. Its over 300 large glossy pages immediately invite the reader to flip through the stunning photographs and watercolor paintings of the featured fifty (of 218) Kentucky Index of American Design artifacts.... [It] is gorgeous and the articles contribute to an understanding of a movement in American history and the efforts made to give the United States a proud identity.... Ultimately, this book contributes to the larger conversation on material culture and the many ways that the study of objects can provide insight into creative expression and everyday life." -- Journal of Folklore Research
- Allen Nobel Book Award