‘Molten steel, billowing smoke, soot-covered miners, and the jagged geometry of mills and factories covering vast tracts of land — these are not the usual subjects for artists,” says the statement accompanying this exhibit. But as seen in this collection, “they can be transformed into objects of sublime beauty.”

The exhibition is drawn from the Steidle Collection at the Earth and Mineral Sciences Museum & Art Gallery at Penn State University. Appointed dean of College of Mineral Industries at Penn State in 1928, Edward Steidle “assembled the collection to visually demonstrate to his students the various industrial processes and the critical role of mineral industries in Pennsylvania. The bulk of the collection was compiled during the Great Depression — a time when Americans needed reassurance about their country’s economic stability. Rather than turn a critical eye toward Pennsylvania’s industry, most of the paintings in the exhibition instead celebrate the state’s industrial power and its proud workers, who rise from the canvas — like modern heroes, draped in the tools of their trade.”

As the Earth and Mineral Sciences Museum notes, “the paintings and prints depicting Pennsylvania’s extractive industries that Steidle selected became the dynamic and esthetic tools he deemed essential for progressive education.”

#b#Iron and Coal, Petroleum and Steel: Industrial Art from the Steidle Collection#/b#, Saturday, July 11, to Saturday, October 25. Michener Art Museum, Doylestown. www.michenermuseum.org.

Once the home of Richard Stockton, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, Morven has an exhibit that dates back almost to that Revolutionary War era.

The current exhibition explores the chairmaking in New Jersey from the 1790s to the end of the 19th century. According to the museum’s statement, “this was an era when chairmakers worked actively in virtually every corner of the state. Thirty-five examples of documented New Jersey chairs show the range of furniture produced in all parts of the state. They are accompanied by chairmaking tools and equipment, portraits, photographs, advertisements, and plates from sales catalogs.

The title of the exhibit is taken from an 1828 newspaper advertisement of J. D. Humphreyville, a chairmaker from Morristown.

#b#Of the Best Materials and Good Workmanship: 19th Century New Jersey Chairmaking#/b#, through Saturday, October 18. Morven Museum and Garden, 55 Stockton Street, Princeton. www.morven.org.

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