Corn Palaces & Butter Queens:
A History of Crop Art & Dairy Sculpture
by Pamela Simpson
NA6750 .A2 U6 2012
New Arrivals, 2nd floor
When I was younger, I had the [mis?]fortunate of taking a cross-country road trip with my family. We usually went to the east because of family, but this time, we headed towards the Left Coast. We ended up covering a lot of ground on our way out to Wyoming. One of the places that we stopped: the Corn Palace in Mitchell, SD. I can’t say that I understood the significance then, but with this week’s New Stuff Tuesday, I have a better idea and appreciation for it.
Simpson, a longtime professor from Washington and Lee University, details the seemingly bizarre practices of the incorporation of food into art and architecture in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The use of grains and other foodstuffs displayed the bounties of the region’s soils and thus the country’s superiority as an agricultural powerhouse. The author describes the art forms themselves, as well as in the context of the time period, with events like the World’s Fair going on. Peppered with photographs of the quirky yet impressive works, Simpson provides excellent insight into an interesting part of American art history.