From England to Princeton to Saint Louis: William Morris

kehinda wiley mrs siddons
“Mrs. Siddons from the series ‘The Economy of Grace'” and detail image of Blackthorn-inspired wallpaper Photographs by Monica Bowen.

Since I learned that the design for Princeton United Methodist Church, built in 1909, has its roots in William Morris’s Arts and Crafts Movement, I have been trying to learn more about it,  And my friend, Mary Pat Robertson, enlivens my research by posting Instagram pictures from England.

Now I find that Barack Obama’s portrait artist, Kehinda Wiley, is also influenced by William Morris, as described here by critic Monica Bowen, courtesy Nancy Marshall’s post on the Arts and Crafts Movement Facebook page.  

Wiley came to the streets of Saint Louis and Ferguson and painted 11 original portraits of people that he met. From the website of the Saint Louis Art Museum:  Kehinde Wiley creates large-scale oil paintings of contemporary African American subjects in poses that recall grand traditions of European and American portraiture. His models—real people dressed in their own clothing—assume poses adapted from historic paintings. Wiley’s portraits often feature ornate and decorative backgrounds, elements of which surround and sometimes weave around his subjects. His works address the politics of race and power in art, drawing attention to the pervasive lack of representation of people of color in the art world. The exhibition at the Saint Louis Art Museum continues through February 19, 2018 and admission is free.

So two of my passions – Princeton UMC’s architecture and stained glass windows and the study of African American culture, based on experiences with Not in Our Town Princeton –– now intersect.

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Carvings on the oak pews; At Princeton United Methodist Church, with roots in the Arts and Crafts Movement, attention was paid to every detail.
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