Icons of American Protestantism: The Art of Warner Sallman

Project Number: 
Start Date: 
Mon, 06/01/1992
End Date: 
Sat, 12/31/1994

M. Jason Knapp and associates directed the “Icons of American Protestantism: The Art of Warner Sallman” that studied, catalogued and exhibited the religious artwork of Warner E. Sallman (1892-1968) with the aim of determining its relation to 20th century Christian piety. The study also sought to understand in a broader perspective the iconic function of visual images for American Protestant religious experience and practice. The project completed three primary activities: (1) scholarly research by a team of five investigators on the work of Sallman; (2) a major symposium and exhibition of his work held in March 1994 at the University of Chicago; and (3) the publication of conference papers in a book edited by David Morgan entitled Icons of American Protestantism: The Art of Warner Sallman (Yale University Press, 1996). <p> The research team consisted of David Morgan, Erika Doss, Collen McDannell, Betty A. Deberg, Sally M. Promey and, in the initial stages of the project, Leonard Sweet. They focused their study on a collection of 120 original works by Sallman permanently housed in the Wilson Galleries of Anderson University. Morgan, along with project administrator and Wilson Galleries director M. Jason Knapp, completed a study catalogue of Sallman’s work for use by the scholarly team in their research. Morgan’s edited book featured their findings. <p> The project sponsored a second symposium and exhibition at the Yale Divinity School in October 1994, followed by additional exhibitions and symposiums. Early in the project, Knapp led in reorganizing the infrastructure of the Wilson Galleries to properly house Sallman’s works. During the course of the project Morgan requested and received over 500 personal responses to Sallman’s work which, along with Sallman’s easel, drawing table and over 30 additional drawings donated by the Sallman family, were added to the collection. As the study ended, Anderson University remodeled the Wilson Galleries to accommodate a permanent exhibition area for most of Sallman’s well-known paintings.