Gather Up the Fragments focuses upon the collection of Faith and Edward Deming Andrews, who from the 1920s through the 1960s formed a large and important assemblage of Shaker art and pioneered Shaker studies. This comprehensive exhibition includes more than 270 objects—furniture, drawings, household objects, textiles, baskets and kitchen implements—and will provide insight into this intriguing religious group that valued many ideas that resonate today such as equality, pacifism, community, sustainability, responsible land stewardship, innovation, simplicity, and quality in work.

Exhibition Background

Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.  John 6:12

The United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing, commonly called the Shakers, posted these words in their dining rooms as a reminder to eat everything on their plates and to waste nothing. Pioneering Shaker scholars and collectors Edward Deming (Ted) Andrews and Faith Young Andrews quoted this same verse in their 1937 book Shaker Furniture in a descriptive caption written for a photograph of a communal dining table. This simple example of the Andrewses’ awareness of how the material and spiritual worlds intertwined in Shaker culture society is in many ways an apt metaphor for the couple’s life mission and work.

Beginning in 1923 and continuing until Faith Andrews’s death in 1990, the Andrewses strove to “gather up the fragments” of Shaker culture. They energetically collected objects, studied sources, mounted exhibitions, and published books on the religious sect. They engaged in deep friendships with the Shakers and with important figures in the 1930s New York City art world; it is because of their efforts that large collections of Shaker materials now exist at Hancock Shaker Village, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Winterthur Museum, and The American Museum in Britain. The Andrewses collected objects great and small—gift drawings, manuscripts, printed works, furniture, boxes, kitchenware, metalware, textiles, and tools. Through careful documentation and scholarship, the Andrewses elucidated these materials for the general public. Their work and collection have provided to future generations the most comprehensive record of the Shakers.

Nearly every object in this exhibition was at one time in the possession of the Andrewses. The project, developed by the Hancock Shaker Village in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, is an attempt to “gather up the fragments” of the Andrewses’ legacy—both material and scholarly—and to honor their tremendous contributions to understanding and preserving Shaker culture.

Gather Up the Fragments: The Andrews Shaker Collection is organized by Hancock Shaker Village, Pittsfield, MA and toured by International Arts & Artists, Washington, DC.

Suggested Reading:

Exhibition Catalogue:  De Pillis, Mario S. and Christian Goodwillie. Gather Up The Fragments: The Andrews Shaker Collection. Yale University Press, 2008.

Andrews, Edward Deming. The Gift to Be Simple: Songs, Dances and Rituals of the American Shakers. Landor Press, 2007.

The People Called Shakers: A Search for the Perfect Society. Dover Publications, 1980.

Brewer, Priscilla J. Shaker Communities, Shaker Lives. University Press of New England, 1986.

Foster, Lawrence. Women, Family, and Utopia: Communal Experiments of the Shakers, the Oneida Community, and the Mormons. Syracuse University Press, 1991.

Mercadante, Linda A. Gender, Doctrine, and God: The Shakers and Contemporary Theology. Abingdon Press, 1990.

Stein, Stephen J. The Shaker Experience in America: A History of the United Society of Believers. Yale University Press, 1992.

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