Monday, August 7, 2017

Met’s Simple Gifts Exhibit Spotlights Shaker Culture

Oklahoma City’s Duke Ligon, a strong supporter of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, serves on the Major Gifts Committee of the museum’s board of directors. The broadly-experienced energy industry executive, who currently heads Mekusukey Oil Company, LLC, and sits on the board of Oklahoma-based Blueknight Energy Partners, L.P., also works to promote the interests of numerous arts and educational nonprofits. Thanks in part to the dedication of Duke Ligon, these organizations continue to offer major programs that benefit the national community.

In one recent exhibit, which ran from July 2016 to August 2017, the Met focused on the heritage of the Shakers. Through Simple Gifts: Shaker at the Met, museum-goers had the opportunity to learn more about this distinctive American culture and its traditions of heartfelt religious devotion and precision craftsmanship.

Numerous 20th and 21st century artists have absorbed influences from the Shakers, known for their minimalist approach to the construction of furniture, tableware, and household articles. For the exhibition, the museum assembled some of its most representative objects made by members of Shaker communities, which thrived in New York and New England, particularly in the early 1800s.

The Shakers, a dissident religious group focused on the values of peacefulness, communitarianism, work, and simplicity, inspired composer Aaron Copland to create a richly evocative arrangement of their hymn “Simple Gifts” for the 1944 Martha Graham ballet “Appalachian Spring.” The Met’s exhibition paired its Shaker pieces with video footage of the ballet.