Handmade and Heartfelt: Folk Art from the Collection of the John F. Kennedy Library & Museum

November 25, 2005—April 3, 2007

Gifts sent to the president and his family from Americans and citizens of other countries are often humble, heartfelt, handmade and patriotic. These individual gestures emerged from a desire to express admiration and respect for the chief executive through personal works of art.

Most of the folk art displayed here are the works of amateur artists and artisans who chose to represent the president, the presidency, or some aspect of JFK’s life (such as his preference for rocking chairs), often using unusual materials, in charming and whimsical ways.

Exhibit Highlights

  • Wedding chest handcrafted in Poland in the traditional Polish folk style by Dobieslaw Walknowski of Krakow, Poland.
  • Shadow box relief portrait of President and Mrs. John F. Kennedy, standing before an American flag
  • Sequin and postage stamp portrait of John F. Kennedy, gift of Dora Blackburn of Baltimore, Maryland.
  • Egg shell and thread portrait of John F. Kennedy, made by Abraham Greenhouse of Perth Amboy, New Jersey.
  • Miniature portrait of John F. Kennedy, with the U.S. Capitol depicted in the background, made by Eugene Walsh of New York, New York.
  • Carved peach pit depicting an image of John F. Kennedy wearing a veterans hat, portrait of John F. Kennedy wearing a veterans hat. To the left is carved an eagle sitting on a shield, and below that is St. Christopher, made by R. J. McErlean of St. Petersburg, Florida.
  • Wooden sculpture of President Kennedy at his desk, made by James Rikos of Lava Hot Springs, Idaho.
  • Inlaid American flag created with 2,037 individual pieces of wood, made by Joseph Dias of Fall River, Massachusetts. The artist selected different kinds of wood, because of their natural colors, from five countries: Brazil, Portuguese Africa, British Guiana, Guatemala, and Canada.
  • Violin decorated with an American flag, created by Paul Czapor of Cleveland, Ohio.
  • Portrait of Jacqueline Kennedy painted on a pipal leaf, made by Bhagwan Gupta of Delhi, India.
  • Crocheted table cover depicting the Project Mercury space capsule, gift of Cecelio Petrosky of Youngstown, Ohio.
  • Miniature rocking chair carved by Cub Scout Joe Hnath of St. Mary's Pennsylvania.