As Above, So Below: Art of the American Fraternal Society, 1850–1930 by Lynne Adele and Bruce Lee Webb, published in November by the University of Texas Press, examines the art of the “golden age” of fraternal societies. Along with groups like the International Order of Odd Fellows (IOOF), the Knights of Pythias, the Woodmen of the World, and others, the Freemasons and fellow secret societies left a profoundly strange visual legacy of papier-mâché skeletons, ostentatious costumes, ritual objects, and a few wooden goats now removed from their original contexts. Art historian Adele and fraternal art collector Webb (himself a 32nd Degree Scottish Rite Mason) unravel the history of why secret societies formed during this period in the United States and how these objects fit into the narrative.
The foreward is by David Byrne of the Talking Heads, who apparently is a fraternal-art collector” wherein henotes there “is an inspiring and wacky solemnity in these organizations — high values reinforced through pageantry and performance in an ecumenical social setting — which deep down must also have been a whole lot of fun.”
Read full article at HYPERALLERGIC: The Mysterious Folk Art of America’s Secret Societies
As Above, So Below: Art of the American Fraternal Society, 1850–1930 by Lynne Adele and Bruce Lee Webb is out now from the University of Texas Press.