Thumbnail image for ThanksgivingThumbnail image for Thanksgiving


Doris Lee

An item at Art Institute of Chicago

Painted in a deliberately cartoon-like manner, this bustling scene of women preparing a Thanksgiving feast debuted in the midst of the Great Depression, a time when the themes of a national holiday, rural customs, and family life appealed to struggling Americans. It became the object of national headlines, however, when it was first exhibited at the Art Institute in 1935 and won the prestigious Logan Purchase Prize. Josephine Logan, the donor of the prize, condemned the work's broad, exaggerated style as too modern, and founded the conservative "Sanity in Art" movement in response. This controversy only brought Illinois-born artist Doris Lee fame, and Thanksgiving has been recognized as one of the most popular views of this American ritual since that time.

Americas in the Making

An exhibit at Art Institute of Chicago


These galleries present dynamic and wide-ranging art forms made in the Americas, where artists have been at work since time immemorial. The region now known as Chicago has long been a vibrant center of Native artistic practices, including those of Ojibwe, Odawa, and Potawatomi nations. European settler colonialism and the development of the metropolis-including our museum's founding in 1879-introduced global art forms. Together, these local histories shape the collections we steward today, which encompass diverse makers, objects, and styles spanning centuries and continents, from North to South America and the Caribbean. The works here offer layered stories of the Americas in the making. Created for a variety of purposes-from aesthetic to ceremonial to practical —they have the power to evoke a range of emotions and responses. Complex factors impacted their making, including displacement and immigration, enslavement, global trade, and indus-trialization. As a result, they offer insights across eras while inviting reinterpretation in our moment. Just as artistic traditions are continually made and remade, so, too, are our efforts to present them. Today you can find selections of the many histories of art in the Americas on this floor and the floor above, in tandem with Gallery 136, a dedicated space for celebrating Indigenous art.