Bruce Lee Webb, co-author of the book As Above, So Below: Art of the American Fraternal Society, 1850-1930, will appear at Morbid Anatomy next month to present a lecture on the subject of the material culture of fraternal orders. (He is in town for his exhibit at Metropolitan Pavilion.) From the publicity:
Featuring more than 200 outstanding objects and historical photographs from the collection of co-author Bruce Lee Webb and his wife Julie, augmented by key examples gathered from other important private and public collections, the newly released book As Above, So Below (University of Texas Press) provides the first comprehensive survey of the rich vein of art created during the Golden Age of the American fraternal society.
By the turn of the twentieth century, an estimated 70,000 local lodges affiliated with hundreds of distinct American fraternal societies claimed a combined 5.5 million members. It has been estimated that at least 20 percent of the American adult male population belonged to one or more fraternal orders, including the two largest groups, the Freemasons and the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. The esoteric knowledge, visual symbols, and moral teachings revealed to lodge brothers during secret rituals inspired an abundant and expressive body of objects that form an important, but largely overlooked and often misunderstood, facet of American visual culture. Co-authors Lynne Adele and Bruce Lee Webb will introduce the audience to fraternal societies and explore the functions and meanings of some of their favorite objects, selecting from paintings and banners, costumes and ceremonial regalia, ritual objects, and an array of idiosyncratic objects that represent a grassroots response to fraternalism. As Above, So Below will be available for purchase at the museum, and the authors will be on hand to answer questions and sign books following their talk.
Lynne Adele, an independent art historian, has specialized in the work of self-taught artists for more than 25 years. She has a lengthy art museum and commercial art gallery background, has curated exhibitions, lectured widely, and written and contributed to numerous exhibition catalogs, books, and journals on American folk art. Her exhibition catalog Spirited Journeys: Self-Taught Texas Artists of the Twentieth Century (1997) has become a standard reference in the field. She lives in Maryville, Tennessee.
Bruce Lee Webb has been a collector and dealer of fraternal objects for more than 25 years. He is a Scottish Rite Mason, Royal Arch Mason, Cryptic Mason, and Knight Templar; he is also an Odd Fellow, and is a Royal Purple member of the Odd Fellows Encampment. He has been initiated into the Order of the Eastern Star, Rebekah, and Knights of Pythias. With his wife, Julie, he founded Webb Gallery in Waxahachie, Texas, in 1987, specializing in the work of self-taught and folk artists.
Tickets are non-refundable unless the event is canceled.