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Failey Grants Awarded to New-York Historical Society, Preservation Society of Newport County, Adrienne Childs, and Iris Moon

Dec 11, 2020

The Decorative Arts Trust’s Failey Grant program provides support for noteworthy research, exhibition, publication, and conservation projects through the Dean F. Failey Fund, named in honor of the Trust’s late Governor. Preference is given to projects that employ or are led by emerging professionals in the museum field. The Trust increased the amount of funding available this cycle to $25,000 in recognition of the acute need for resources to underwrite important endeavors. The Education Committee selected four recipients: New-York Historical Society, the Preservation Society of Newport County, and authors Adrienne Childs and Iris Moon.

New-York Historical Society

In 2022, the New-York Historical Society will open the groundbreaking exhibition Black Dolls, which examines handmade Black dolls as both artistic expressions and windows into critical issues of race, gender, identity, and the legacy of slavery. Drawing from the collection of Deborah Neff, the show will present more than 100 home-made cloth dolls created largely by African American women between 1850 and 1940. Co-curated by Margaret K. Hofer, Vice President and Museum Director, and Dominique Jean-Louis, Project Historian, the exhibition will immerse visitors into the world of dolls, doll play, and doll making.

Preservation Society of Newport County

The Preservation Society of Newport County in RI is planning a comprehensive reinterpretation of Hunter House, the oldest property in the Society’s collection and long a landmark of Newport’s 18th-century prominence. The project aims to expand the public’s knowledge of the house through an overhauled interpretive presentation for onsite and online visitors. The investigation is led by research fellows Catherine Doucette and MaryKate Smolenski under the guidance of Leslie B. Jones, Director of Museum Affairs and Chief Curator. The team will address the ethics, scholarship, and restoration of histories and voices missing from the historic site. The new visitor experience will present an inclusive story that details Newport’s complex role in the economies of slavery and colonialism.

Adrienne Childs, Author of Ornamental Blackness

Adrienne Childs is finalizing the manuscript of Ornamental Blackness, to be published by Yale University Press in 2023. The book examines the long and complex tradition of the ornamental Black figure in European art and will create a framework for understanding how the decorative arts figure into the larger discourse of representing Blacks in European visual culture. Scant critical attention has been paid to this material, and the publication will have great value to museums, historic houses, and academia. Childs is an Associate of the W.E.B. Du Bois Research Institute at the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University.

Iris Moon, Author of Luxury of Terror

Iris Moon, Assistant Curator of European ceramics and glass at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, is concluding an analysis of the decorative arts of the French Revolution that will result in the publication of Luxury of Terror by the Pennsylvania State Press in 2022. Moon’s research explores the production and circulation of French luxury after the death of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette and how makers with strong ties to the monarchy found ways to survive the Terror, the most radical and violent phase of the Revolution. The publication will expand the study of French decorative arts by drawing attention to the creative and experimental forms of luxury that emerged during a turbulent period of history.

Failey Grants are awarded annually as part of the Decorative Arts Trust’s Emerging Scholars Program, much of which is supported by Trust members and donors. Sign up for the e-newsletter and follow the Trust on Instagram and Facebook for updates on grant and scholarship deadline and recipient announcements.

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