Yesterday, June 12, 2018, the American Folk Art Museum unveiled its latest exhibition, Charting the Divine Plan: The Art of Orra White Hitchcock (1796–1863).


The exhibition, which will be on view through October 14, 2018, explores the convergence of art, love, science, and religion in the extraordinary art of Orra White Hitchcock, one of America’s first female scientific illustrators.


Married to Amherst College professor Edward Hitchcock, influenced her love for science and faith. The exhibition traces her development from schoolgirl projects to highly accomplished renderings of the natural scenery of the Connecticut River Valley used in her husband’s geology publications. Less well known are colorful paintings on cotton—some more than twelve feet long—that were used to illustrate her husband’s many college lectures on geology, botany, zoology, and anatomy. In these, Orra White Hitchcock communicated complex scientific principles in abstract visual terms that now appear with a modern take. The exhibition features archival letters, manuscripts, diaries, and albums that highlight what Edward the scientist studied and Orra White’s interpretation through her art.


Charting the Divine Plan: The Art of Orra White Hitchcock (1796–1863) on view at the American Folk Art Museum, June 12, 2018–October 14, 2018


images // Stephen Smith for Art Zealous