Website created by: Suzanne C. Korn
North Reading Historical and Antiquarian Society's
Welcome Center at the c1817 David Damon Tavern...
stenciled by Suzanne in the tradition of
Moses Eaton, Jr.
As a self-described student of Rufus Porter and Moses Eaton, Jr., both 19th century New England folk artists, my mission is to preserve the memories of the enchanting folk art designs, patterns, and paintings that at one time graced the walls of homes, inns, and taverns in federal period America. Through my published research, illustrated talks, and artwork, I endeavor to teach and inspire others about this wonderful decorative folk art and the extraordinary role Eaton and Porter’s art played in the lives of 19th century rural New Englanders.
I have been researching, and writing about early American wall stenciling for over 15 years. My research has taken me to every corner of New England in order to view some of the few remaining original works of the itinerant stencilers, like Moses Eaton, Jr. I also had the opportunity to study one of the most comprehensive bodies of work done to date on early stenciled walls in New England. This research, completed almost 30 years ago, provides detail of early American decoration found in 460 New England homes, inns, and taverns. From my study of this research, A Sketchbook of Historic New England Walls was born! The sketchbook details approximately 40 historic walls, showing the exact layout and placement of the folk art patterns and motifs. Using the templates in the sketchbook, historic compositions in the tradition of Moses Eaton, Jr. can be re-created in homes today. My research on early American stenciling has been published in The Decorator, a publication of the Historical Society of Early American Decoration.
In the summer of 2005, I completed a project at the circa 1817 David Damon Tavern, located in North Reading, Massachusetts. In the Historical Society’s Welcome Center, I stenciled the walls in the tradition of Moses Eaton, Jr. The period wall treatment includes motifs like pineapples, weeping willows, flower baskets, and oak leaf clusters...all dancing across walls washed with brilliant yellow. The pineapples, colonial symbol of "Welcome" and hospitality, are the perfect ornament for the walls in the “Welcome Center!” Reminiscent of the days of yore in 19th century New England, the stenciled walls at the Welcome Center now hum with renewed life.
In recent years, I have become a student of the Rufus Porter School of Landscape Painting. The Porter School of Landscape painting refers to the artwork created by several 19th century New England folk artists who employed the specific formulas and methodologies for painting folk art landscapes as documented by Rufus Porter in his 1825 publication “Curious Arts.“ Porter said: “Every object must be painted larger or smaller according to the distance at which it is represented. This gives the allusion of distance to a flat wall surface”. The perspective created by huge trees rising out of the foreground and distant scenes of harbors, pastures and villages, is one of the important characteristics of a Porter mural. I incorporate these principles into my own art, with each painting being a tribute to the genius of Rufus Porter and to life in the small villages and coastal towns of 19th century New England.
You can also find me traveling around New England delivering lectures at local libraries and club meetings. My presentation is called: “New England’s Timeless Decoration: The Folk Art of Moses Eaton, Jr. and Rufus Porter”. The presentation details the tremendous impact the folk art of Eaton and Porter had on the lives of rural New Englanders in federal period America. My presentation also features a slideshow of my journeys throughout New England, where I have conducted research in homes, inns and taverns with Eaton’s historic wall stenciling and Porter’s signature landscape murals. The history of wall stenciling in New England, the life and times of Moses Eaton, Jr., and the genius of Rufus Porter, are all topics that are explored.
My professional associations include the Historical Society of Early American Decoration (HSEAD), Historic New England (SPNEA), and the International Decorative Artisans League. I am also a Board Member and Advisor to The Center for Painted Wall Preservation, an organization dedicated to the research and preservation of eighteenth and early nineteenth century American paint-decorated plaster walls.
I make my home in the heart of North Reading, Massachusetts with my husband Rich, and canine sidekick Alice.
Early American Painter
Suzanne Carroll Korn