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Crossing the Threshold: Traditional Folk Art from the Russian Home
Artifacts and Decorative Arts Tell the Story of Russian Life
Now on view
Curated by Masha (Maria) Trout
Russian peasants not only derived emotional and spiritual support from religious icons which held special positions in homes and churches, but they also gained a sense of security from other objects inside their homes. Besides their own unique purpose, the objects often had a ceremonial or mystical function. This wide-ranging exhibit of authentic folk art and replicas by renowned Russian artisans illustrates the beliefs and culture of Russian peasants through craftsmanship such as woodcarving, embroidery, basketry, pottery, toy-making and tailoring.
Traditional decorative motifs and designs, developed over generations, often fuse the symbols of Orthodox Christianity with pagan allegory. For example, a woman with her hands raised or a bird in her hand, looks similar to images of the Mother of God, but actually represents an earth mother deity, symbolizing fertility for the harvest and family. Another example is the frequent depiciton of the tree of life, common to many cultures.
Curator Maria (Masha) Trout has been a docent for six years and was among the first group of volunteers at the Museum of Russian Icons. As a mother of two, and Russian by birth, she is raising her children to be bilingual and to appreciate their heritage at a daily level. As a docent at the Museum, one of Masha's priorities is to convey to visitors that objects in the museum actually "lived" elsewhere in time and place - in people's homes and churches - years, if not hundreds of years, before. The objects in "Crossing the Threshold" were used by actual people as utilitarian objects, toys, and clothing. The craftsmanship intrinsic to each object elevates them to the level of art.
About 80% of the items on the display are on loan from Vladislav and Olga Andrejev, who live in upstate NY. After being exiled from Russia, they took asylum in the US. Over time, they collected traditional household items that they still use on a daily basis, such as birch bark containers and extraordinary embroidered towels. Also included are samples of dolls and clothing, for adults and children from different regions.
The folk tradition is a magnet for people of all ages because everyone can appreciate and easily understand these objects' connections to our lives and history.
This exhibiton is made possible by the following:
- Olga and Vladislav Andreyev -- collectors
- Irene and Alex Belozersky -- collectors
- Irina Petrova -- collector and embroidery expert who helped with the identification of regions and time period of the embroidery for the exhibit
- Elena Kurasheva -- collector (she made a replica of a pair of antique Russian earrings belonging to her family)
- Nina Vinogradova -- doll maker who uses traditional and primitive techniques to make her dolls
- Alyona Zavadskaya -- collector
- Charles Gareginyan -- children's activity booklet illustrator
- Anastasia Bogushevskaya-Gareginyan and Samvel Gareginyan -- collectors
- Vladimir Yarish -- master basket maker from Novgorod Velikiy, Russia.
- Kate Kerov -- information and photography
- Marina Khazanova -- collector
Tuesday - Friday: 11:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Saturday: 11:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Sunday: 11:00 AM - 5:00 PM
First Thursday: 11:00 AM - 8:00 PM
Closed on Mondays and the following holidays: New Year's Day, Easter, July 4, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day.
Docent tours are available.
Adults $10, Seniors (59 and over) $7
Students (with ID) & children (3-17) $5
Children under 3 FREE
Group Rates: CLICK HERE
The Museum is ADA accessible.
203 Union Street
Clinton, Massachusetts 01510
Read the Summer Newsletter.
Journal of Icon Studies: Fabian Heffermehl, "The Icon and the Hand: Acheiropoiesis (‘Nerukotvornost’) as a Literary Technique in Shalamov’s Glove"