Mystery & Benevolence
Masonic and Odd Fellows Folk Art
An exhibition of over one hundred carvings, sculptures, textiles, and regalia revealing the hidden histories of the Freemasons and the Independent Order of the Odd Fellows.
More about this exhibition
Curious and captivating, the over one hundred carvings, sculptures, textiles, and regalia revealed in this exhibition bring to light the hidden histories of the Freemasons and the Independent Order of the Odd Fellows – two fraternal brotherhoods with deep roots in American history. These objects convey the secretive practices of fraternal organizations through their rich symbolism and unusual imagery. To members, this iconography emphasizes the core values of fellowship, labor, charity, passage, and wisdom, yet the images appear puzzling to the uninitiated.
These tenets also reveal the complicated nature of fraternal brotherhoods as exclusive societies that pursue charitable and benevolent goals while remaining cloaked in mystery. Brought together in one exhibition, these objects provide visitors with a window into the enigmatic world of fraternal organizations in the United States. This exhibition is also a reminder of the rich history of the Mattatuck Museum’s building, which once housed Waterbury’s Masonic Lodge, as well as the nearby Odd Fellows Hall that was once located across the Waterbury Green.
Mystery & Benevolence was organized by the American Folk Art Museum, New York, NY from the Kendra and Allan Daniel Collection and is toured by International Arts & Artists, Washington, DC.
Image credit: Artist unidentified, Masonic Knights Templar Shade, 1875–1900, Paint on canvas, Collection American Folk Art Museum, New York, Gift of Kendra and Allan Daniel, Photo by José Andrés RamírezNext Previous