Reynolda House Museum of American Art Presents: ‘A Self in the Remaking: Katharine Smith Reynolds Johnston’
Reynolda House Museum of American Art presents a fresh look at Reynolda’s founder, Katharine Smith Reynolds Johnston. “A Self in the Remaking: Katharine Smith Reynolds Johnston” will be on view July 30, 2019–July 25, 2021.
The exhibition features 45 objects, including historic costumes, photographs and manuscripts, many on display for the first time, pulled from the collections in the Reynolda House Archives and the Z. Smith Reynolds Library Special Collections and Archives at Wake Forest University.
PHOTO ABOVE – Katharine Smith Reynolds Johnston, circa 1921. Estate Archives, Reynolda House Museum of American Art.
A savvy businesswoman, Katharine worked with landscape designers and architects to manage the planning of the Reynolda estate and her new country home, which she called the “Bungalow.” She also oversaw all operations of the Reynolda farm and installed scientifically progressive practices.
Her accomplishments at Reynolda make it all too easy to forget that she had her own complex needs, yearnings and vulnerabilities. “A Self in the Remaking” explores who Katharine was as a woman, which has often been overshadowed by her work as a businesswoman and social reformer. Despite the privilege bestowed by her wealth and status, Katharine could not escape the stress of her many familial and social responsibilities. After the death of R.J. Reynolds in 1918, Katharine entered the 1920s ready to embrace an era shaped by new ideas, new technologies and new fashions.
“A Self in the Remaking” examines the cultural pursuits, stylish pleasures, modern sensibilities and new relationships that defined Katharine in her final years before her death at age 43. Katharine championed women’s suffrage, embraced a sleeker, more modish wardrobe with shorter hemlines and hosted more parties in her home. And, she embarked on a relationship with a young, handsome war veteran and educator that proved to be an unexpected yet perfect match. When writing to her parents about this new moment in her life, she explained, “I told them how I’d worked and planned for the happiness of others, but now I was working and planning day and night for my own….”
“Katharine is always viewed as the reformer, the businesswoman, the feminist, but this exhibition complicates her narrative by looking instead at who she was as a woman, making her both more compelling and more relatable,” says Bari Helms, the exhibition’s curator and director of archives and library at Reynolda. “Visitors will connect to the blend of strength and vulnerability that Katharine displayed in the 1920s as she overcame the loss of her husband, took a risk on a new relationship and struggled to guide a blended family.”
Exhibition Preview and Champagne with Curator Bari Helms
Fri., July 26, 3 p.m.
Sat., July 27, 1:30 p.m.
Sat., July 27, at 3 p.m.
$15 member. Limit of 10 guests per session.
Wear your garden party best and enjoy this exclusive opportunity to see some of Katharine’s clothing with Reynolda Archivist and exhibition curator Bari Helms before the exhibition opens to the public. Following the tour, program guests will enjoy a champagne toast on the Lake Porch, compliments of the Katharine Brasserie & Bar.
An archival talk by Reynolda Fellow Wendy Katz, Ph.D.
Wed., Oct. 2, 1 p.m.
Free with general admission
Reynolda, in Winston-Salem, N.C., is a rare gem among the nation’s cultural institutions and historic greenspaces. The 50-year-old museum at the center of Reynolda’s 180 acres, Reynolda House Museum of American Art, presents a renowned art collection in a historic and incomparable setting: the original 1917 interiors of the country manor of R. J. Reynolds. Spanning 250 years, the collection is an uncompromisingly selective one, a chronology of American art, with each artist represented by one work of major significance. Highlights are: Albert Bierstadt, Mary Cassatt, William Merritt Chase, Frederic Edwin Church, Stuart Davis, Martin Johnson Heade, Alex Katz, Lee Krasner, Jacob Lawrence, Georgia O’Keeffe, John Singer Sargent and Grant Wood. The collection was assembled by the unerring eye of Barbara Babcock Millhouse, granddaughter of R. J. and Katharine Reynolds. The Reynolda experience includes a free app called Reynolda Revealed; touring exhibitions in the museum’s Mary and Charlie Babcock Wing; formal gardens, conservatory and walking trails of Reynolda Gardens; and more than 25 of the estate’s original buildings repurposed as shops and restaurants in Reynolda Village. Reynolda, located at 2250 Reynolda Road, is adjacent to Wake Forest University. For more information, please visit reynolda.org. Connect at facebook.com/rhmaa and @CurateReynolda.