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      Exhibition

      Bethany Collins, America: A Hymnal

      Ongoing

      Today's hours:

      10 am–5 pm

      Monday

      10 am–5 pm

      Tuesday

      Closed

      Wednesday

      Closed

      Thursday

      10 am–5 pm

      Friday

      10 am–5 pm

      Saturday

      10 am–5 pm

      Sunday

      10 am–5 pm

      Monday

      10 am–5 pm

      Tuesday

      Closed

      Wednesday

      Closed

      Thursday

      10 am–5 pm

      Friday

      10 am–5 pm

      Saturday

      10 am–5 pm

      Sunday

      10 am–5 pm

      Bethany Collins (b. 1984) is a multidisciplinary artist using language to explore American history and the nuance of racial and national identities.

      This exhibition explores America as a place where disparate viewpoints are brought together: America as both longed for and greatly revered.

      Previously on view in the context of PEM's 2019 Jacob Lawrence: The American Struggle exhibition, Bethany Collins, America: A Hymnal presents a solo exhibition of Collins’ art as an immersive experience. Explore 100 different versions of the popular patriotic anthem “My Country ‘Tis of Thee,” rewritten between the 18th and 20th centuries in support of various American causes. Versions of the lyrics are bound together chronologically in Collins’ artist book, where she burns away the musical notes with a laser — chronicling an idea of America through the history of one song’s varied verses. A range of these powerful voices and expressions are heard throughout the gallery in a sound piece, what Collins calls, “a familiar chaos of dissenting versions of what it means to be … American bound together.” The gallery is wallpapered with a newly commissioned work of flocked flower silhouettes. Each flower contains a meaning as the artist uses floriography, the symbolic language of flowers, to relay messages of hope, longing and loss to further illustrate the evolution and complexity of American experiences.

      In addition to the artwork on view, a study center offers deeper dives into Collins' artistic approaches and historical sources. Through interactives, PEM collection objects and media components, Bethany Collins, America: A Hymnal inspires us to activate our own civic mindset.

      Bethany Collins, America: A Hymnal is organized by the Peabody Essex Museum. This exhibition is made possible by the generosity of Carolyn and Peter S. Lynch and The Lynch Foundation. We thank James B. and Mary Lou Hawkes, Chip and Susan Robie and Timothy T. Hilton as supporters of the Exhibition Innovation Fund. We also recognize the generosity of the East India Marine Associates of the Peabody Essex Museum.

      Follow along on social media using #AmericaAHymnal.

      TOP IMAGE: Bethany Collins, America: A Hymnal, 2017, book with lasercut leaves. Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum, N7433.4 .C639 A58 2017+. Photo by Tim Johnson. Courtesy of the Artist and PATRON Gallery, Chicago.

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      Bethany Collins and Matt Austin, America: A Hymnal (detail), 2017, book with lasercut leaves. First ed., copy 22 of 25. Chicago, IL: Candor Arts and Patron Gallery, 2017. Purchase, 2018. Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum, N7433.4 .C639 A58 2017+. Pho

      Bethany Collins and Matt Austin, America: A Hymnal (detail), 2017, book with lasercut leaves. First ed., copy 22 of 25. Chicago, IL: Candor Arts and Patron Gallery, 2017. Purchase, 2018. Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum, N7433.4 .C639 A58 2017+. Photo by Tim Johnson. Courtesy of the Artist and PATRON Gallery, Chicago.

      Exhibition view of Bethany Collins, America: A Hymnal. Photo by Kathy Tarantola/PEM.

      Exhibition view of Bethany Collins, America: A Hymnal. Photo by Kathy Tarantola/PEM.

      Show me an archive of language and text from a time – and there is something to be learned about ourselves.
      — Bethany Collins
      Bethany Collins, America: A Hymnal
      Play

      Artist Interview

      Artist Bethany Collins discusses her hymnal on view in PEM’s 2020 exhibition Jacob Lawrence: The American Struggle.

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      Bethany Collins, America: A Hymnal, 2017, book with lasercut leaves. Photo by Kathy Tarantola/PEM.

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