There are 68 Thorne Miniature Rooms in the Art Institute's collection (including the French Dining Room pictured above), but we presently have 69 on view with the addition of our German Rococo loan room. It is my pleasure to take care of these rooms, as well as research their history and construction. This has led me to take up making miniatures of my own as a means of practice and to further my knowledge and appreciation of the art of fine miniatures. One of my great opportunities to practice comes once a year in a tiny coastal town in Maine called Castine. A group of miniature artists descends upon this town for Guild School, which is part of the International Guild of Miniature Artisans. I just got back from this weeklong study trip and thought it might be interesting to share some of the things I learned.
But first a view of the town. It’s beautiful here but the trip is all about miniatures…
All kinds of skills are taught, from creating miniature furniture to silver- and other metal-smithing to making plants and even miniature gold fish.
We have the opportunity to work with many amazing miniatures teachers and students from around the world. While I was there, I ran into fellow Chicagoan and artist Mary Grady O’Brian.
Some of you might remember her work as a part of our annual holiday decorations for the Thorne Rooms. She created the little Victorian doll and a bulto (or saint figure) for our New Mexico room.
Here I am studying how to make a miniature basket in a class led by Francine Coyon.
and at the end of the week a hinged lidded basket!
And now learning miniature painting techniques with South African artist Beth Freeman-Kane.
Here is my finished painted bird and landscape from her workshop.
My new skills will be put to the test later this year as we bedeck a new Thorne Miniature Room this year for the holidays. Which will we pick? You'll have to wait and see, but feel free to leave your guesses in the comments!
—Lindsay Mican Morgan, Department Technician, Thorne Rooms
Image Credit: Mrs. James Ward Thorne. French Dining Room of the Periods of Louis XV and Louis XIV, c. 1937. Gift of Mrs. James Ward Thorne.
15 hours 37 min ago The Art Institute of Chicago NOW ON VIEW—In 1963 Melvin Edwards began Lynch Fragments, a series of welded steel assemblages made in response to the tumultuous social climate of the Civil Rights movement. The title of the series evokes the horrifying images of racist mob violence, yet Edwards’s works distill the subject into a powerful sculptural language, fusing modernist abstraction with a sense of personal and collective history.
Afrophoenix No. 1—one of the earliest objects from the series—exemplifies how the artist physically transformed found objects and brought them together in poetically suggestive, tension-filled compositions. Here the formal arrangement of steel elements evokes an equestrian bridle and bit. Chains, hammers, nails, spikes, and screws magnify the sculpture’s associative power, recalling implements of labor and torture. At the same the title references the mythological phoenix—alluding to death, rebirth, and transformation.
See Afrophoenix No. 1 (1963) by Melvin Edwards in Gallery 289D.
20 hours 3 min ago The Art Institute of Chicago CLOSING SOON—Modern Velvet: A Sense of Luxury in the Age of Industry
With their plush, inviting, and varied textures, the velvets featured in this exhibition showcase the diversity of modern velvet as well as the effects of industry on its production. As industrial innovations at the turn of the 19th century allowed for faster production and encouraged the use of less costly materials, designers and manufacturers of velvet sought to maintain its association with wealth, luxury, and splendor.
Learn how this elegant fabric has inspired designers for centuries, with a wide range of examples from the 19th century to present day—closing March 19.
1 day 7 hours ago The Art Institute of Chicago Just like the museum's collection comes from artists around the world, so does the Museum Shop’s assortment of products. We source exclusive products from artisans that are inspired by the cultures, mediums, and techniques represented in our museum collection. View our assortment of unique items from India.