How lucky are we? The first major museum exhibition to examine the relationship between American artists and the paranormal opened Saturday, February 19, at the Minneapolis Institute of Art after making the rounds to the Speed Art Museum in Louisville, Kentucky and the Toledo Museum of Art in Ohio.
“Supernatural America: The Paranormal in American Art” features more than 150 works from the 1800s through present day. The breadth of lived experiences on display is astonishing—with art pieces touching upon mourning and funerary rites, mysticism, palmistry, cosmology, clairvoyance, trance, magic and witchcraft, mediumship and conjuring, environmental hauntings, occult philosophies, out-of-body experiences, intergalactic travel, extraterrestrial life, and more.
Heavy hitters Reverend Howard Finster, Howardena Pindell, Gertrude Abercrombie, and Andrew Wyeth are all represented, along with artists whose work has never been publicly shown until now. Peppered among the oil paintings and mixed-media installations are real-deal aura goggles, folk magic poppets, silver print cabinet portraits where the dead hover around the living, and spirit-baiting curios like Ouija boards and planchettes.
There’s even a section devoted to “spirit artists”: people who create their art works by letting specters inhabit or direct their bodies, sometimes during séances.
The exhibition is engrossing enough that you’ll want at least two hours to explore everything. BYO earbuds to access an audio guide with additional commentary from 16 artists and scholars.
“Supernatural America” runs through May 15, 2022. Check the calendar at artsmia.org for cool programming pegged to the show, including a supernatural film series co-hosted with the MSP Film Society (May 7-8) and a panel discussion about Indigeneity and the spirit world (April 21) with exhibiting artists Chholing Taha, John Jota Leaños, and Chris Pappan.
‘Supernatural America’ at the Minneapolis Institute of Art
2400 3rd Ave. S., Minneapolis, MN; 888-642-2787.