Spiritual Spectacles: Mother’s Work and the Shaker Era of Manifestations

The Shakers are often called America’s longest lasting “Utopia.” Since their arrival from England in 1774, they’ve sought to build Heaven on Earth within organized, egalitarian communes. While widely known for their fervent worship styles, strict celibacy and excellent design, a brief period of their history known as “The Era of Manifestations” brought forth exceptionally fruitful spirit communication. From roughly 1837-1857 first-generation Shakers, such as early leader Mother Ann Lee (believed to be the Second Coming of Christ as “Holy Mother Wisdom”), appeared to young Shaker “instruments” who channeled their messages. Visual recordings of these correspondences are now known as the Gift Drawings or “Mother’s Work”. This lecture will contextualize the Era of Manifestations, its overlap with Spiritualism, and some of Molteni’s responsive artwork as artist and researcher-in-residence at Hancock, Canterbury, and Harvard Shaker Villages.


Maria Molteni (They/She, b. 1983, Nashville) is a Boston-based interdisciplinary artist, mystic, beekeeper, and Shaker researcher- since their first visit to the living Shakers in 2007. They descend from competitive square dancers, quilters and beekeepers who farmed just south of South Union Shaker Village (KY). Molteni pulls from a well of historical contexts, picturing themself as a Phys-Ed coach for visionary movements such as Shakers or the Bauhaus. With backgrounds in painting, publication, dance and athletics, their practice bloomed to incorporate deep research, embodied spirituality and interspecies collaboration. They are an active member of Lake Pleasant (the other oldest Spiritualist community in the US) and their intuitive practice spans astrology, tarot, dreamwork, conchomancy and color magic.

Molteni has been an artist and researcher-in-residence at Hancock, Canterbury and Harvard Shaker Villages and worked closely with the archives of several others. They have exhibited at numerous galleries and museums (as well as basements, basketball courts and seascapes) across the globe. Formal institutions include: The Momentary Contemporary Art Museum (Bentonville, AR), ICA & MFA Boston,  Project Rowhouses (Houston), Den Frei Contemporary Art Center (Copenhagen), NGBK (Berlin), Basis Voor Actuele Kunst (Utrect), Museum of Design Atlanta, San Luis Obispo Museum of Art (CA) and Fuller Craft Museum (MA). They recently completed an original Scopa playing + divination card deck which debuted in their “Counting to Infinity/ Sweeping Stars” installation at A + A Gallery, (Venice, Italy).


Curated and Hosted by

Shannon Taggart is an artist and author exploring the intersection between Spiritualism, photography, and the representation of belief. Her work has been exhibited and featured internationally, including within the publications TIME, New York Times Magazine, Discover, and Newsweek. Taggart’s monograph, SÉANCE (Fulgur Press, 2019), was named one of TIME’s ‘Best Photobooks of 2019.’ https://www.shannontaggart.com/

don’t worry if you miss it – we will send you a recording valid for two weeks the next day

Shannon Taggart’s Supernatural Mystery Symposium

Selections from the annual event on supernatural mystery and strange cultural history, curated by Shannon Taggart and hosted in Lily Dale, NY, USA—the town home to the world’s largest Spiritualist community.

What Is the Future of the Grave? by Allison Meier – 3 Mar

Dr. Raymond Buckland’s ‘Wide World of Spirit – Steven Intermill and Toni Rotonda – 24 Mar

Spiritual Spectacles: Mother’s Work and the Shaker Era of Manifestations – Maria Molteni – 11 Apr

Ted Serios: The Mind’s Eye, with Emily Hauver – 25 Apr

Séance: Spiritualism, Photography and the Search for Ectoplasm – Shannon Taggart – 2 May

Music from Elsewhere – Doug Skinner – 9 May

Publishing the Paranormal – Charles and Penelope Emmons – 16 May

Supernatural Mystery Symposium: Reclaiming Art – JF Martel – 23 May

The Adventures of Arthur Conan Doyle – Michael W Homer – 20 Jun

Nov 18th 2024 8:00 pm - 09:30 pm

£6 - £10 & By Donation

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