Norman Rockwell Exhibition Coming to BYU

Contributed By Jason Swensen, Church News staff writer

  • 1 November 2015

Triple Self-Portrait (1960) captures Norman Rockwell’s trademark humor.  Photo by Norman Rockwell Museum Collections.

“It’s an extremely moving exhibition—poignantly capturing both the joys and sorrows of our history.” —Janalee Emmer, head educator and exhibition curator at BYU Museum of Art

Many of the most familiar paintings from American artist Norman Rockwell will be spending a few months at a Church-owned school.

Brigham Young University’s Museum of Art will host American Chronicles: The Art of Norman Rockwell—a major exhibition featuring more than 50 paintings by the beloved illustrator. The exhibit opens November 20 and will run through February 13, 2016.

Mr. Rockwell (1894–1978) created some of the country’s most recognizable and beloved works of art. His illustrations often offer sentimental glimpses into American culture—celebrating faith, families, youth, and sports.

But his illustrations could also be rich in realism and social consciousness. His brush captured key moments from the Civil Rights Movement and other challenging moments in United States history from the 20th century.

“The exhibition is exciting for all audiences, enabling young and old to reflect on some of the most vital, momentous chapters in American history,” exhibition educator Lynda Palma said in a museum statement. “Through this lens we can compare our lives today with those of the past—an era of world war, civil rights, and unprecedented technological innovation—and learn the valuable lessons that only hindsight can provide.”

Norman Rockwell’s painting Girl at Mirror was published on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post on March 6, 1943. Photo by Norman Rockwell Museum Collections.

Norman Rockwell’s iconic illustration Freedom from Want appeared on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post in 1943. Photo by Norman Rockwell Museum Collections.

Mr. Rockwell was a prolific illustrator. His works depicting moments of Americana were found on over 300 covers of the Saturday Evening Post. His many works celebrating Scouting graced Boy’s Life magazine. (Much of his Scout-themed work was exhibited two years ago at the Church History Museum near Temple Square.)

Visitors to American Chronicles will recognize many of the paintings on display—including No Swimming, Triple Self-Portrait, and Family Tree.

Perhaps one of the artist’s most provocative paintings—The Problem We All Live With (1963)—will also be featured. It depicts a little girl named Ruby Bridges who became the first black child to attend a newly desegregated school in New Orleans.

In conjunction with the Norman Rockwell exhibition, Ms. Bridges will share her experiences and memories from this historic moment on November 19 at 7:00 p.m. at the BYU Museum of Art.

“[Mr. Rockwell] was an extremely gifted storyteller, and I think that our audience will love seeing iconic Rockwell paintings that cheerfully celebrate ordinary people in everyday and often idealized situations,” head educator and exhibition curator Janalee Emmer said in a museum statement. “But Rockwell was also deeply interested in documenting social issues, such as desegregation, civil rights, and poverty, and this exhibition provides the opportunity to see that side of Rockwell as well. “It’s an extremely moving exhibition—poignantly capturing both the joys and sorrows of our history.”

American Chronicles will be free of charge. Additional information about the exhibition and the museum can be found at moa.byu.edu.