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Description: Window on the West: Chicago and the Art of the New Frontier 1890–1940
Sponsor's Statement
PublisherArt Institute of Chicago
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Sponsor's Statement
Since 1996 The Elizabeth Morse Charitable Trust has underwritten educational outreach programming for a variety of exhibitions at The Art Institute of Chicago. The Trust funded this programming as part of its mission to help young people from disadvantaged or troubled backgrounds develop a sense of self-worth and dignity, with an emphasis on the classical fine arts. While support for educational outreach remains important, The Elizabeth Morse Charitable Trust has now for the first time become the Sponsor of a major exhibition at the Art Institute.
Working with the Art Institute’s talented and resourceful staff, and picking from an abundant list of possibilities, The Elizabeth Morse Charitable Trust chose to be the Sponsor of Window on the West: Chicago and the Art of the New Frontier, 1890–1940. The Trust made this choice for two reasons. First, the exhibition presents the work of artists who sought to depict the American West at the very time that the frontier was closing and Native American tribes thought to be vanishing; it also explores the relationship among these artists, their western subject matter, and their Chicago patrons, many of whom were civic leaders and their families who had made their fortune by selling to those who had settled the West.
Elizabeth Morse, whose memory The Elizabeth Morse Charitable Trust honors, was a member of one such family. Elizabeth was the daughter of Charles Hosmer Morse, who, at the age of seventeen, began work as a clerk for a scale manufacturer at a salary of $50.00 a year plus board. In 1857 Morse moved to Chicago as a sales agent for the local branch of the company, and by 1891 he had united all branch offices into one entity, which he incorporated as Fairbanks, Morse & Company. Under his leadership, Fairbanks, Morse & Company expanded its product line from scales to include windmills, warehouse trucks, coffee mills, hand and motor railway cars, pumps, and engines. Not only did the company’s engines power trains, boats, and factories, but its pumps enabled farmers throughout the Midwest and beyond to irrigate fields that would otherwise have lain barren. By the time that Morse died in 1921, Fairbanks, Morse & Company employed thousands of workers and had offices around the world. Given the strong historical connection of the Morse family to the city, The Trust focuses its grantmaking in Chicago.
The second reason for The Trust’s decision to sponsor this exhibition is that the West is associated with values that The Elizabeth Morse Charitable Trust seeks to promote. In addition to assisting youth from disadvantaged or troubled backgrounds, The Trust supports programs that encourage thrift, humility, industry, self-sufficiency, and self-sacrifice. And because The Trust recognizes that the treatment of Native Americans during this period of American history deprived them of opportunities to be self-sufficient and industrious, The Trust supports programs at major cultural institutions, such as the Art Institute, that promote audience diversity, as well as outreach to underserved and disadvantaged communities.
The Elizabeth Morse Charitable Trust is delighted and honored to be the Sponsor of Window on the West: Chicago and the Art of the New Frontier, 1890–1940. The Trust also hopes that you will enjoy the exhibition and this catalogue, whether you are from the East, the West, the South, or Chicago itself.
James L. Alexander
Bank One Trust Company, N.A.
Sponsor's Statement
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