Anything but Simple: Shaker Gift Drawings and the Women Who Made Them
Organized by Hancock Shaker Village, Pittsfield, MA, Anything but Simple: Shaker Gift Drawings and the Women Who Made Them features rare Shaker “gift” or “spirit” drawings, all created between 1843–57. Colorful, decorative, and complex, these drawings are unique to the Shakers and to American religious culture as a whole. Comprising 25 of the 200 gift drawings extant in public, this group of works is widely considered one of the finest collections of such drawings.
It is supposed that perhaps hundreds more drawings once existed, but were destroyed by the Shakers when their creators died. Even more unique, each of the drawings was created by a woman. Anything but Simple includes the most famous gift drawing in existence—Hannah Cohoon’s 1854 Tree of Life—and examines the gift drawings as they relate to women and their role as spiritual “instruments” in the Shaker communities in the mid-19th century.