Five Shaker Houses

George Greenamyer (American, b. 1939)
1976, painted steel
83 x 24 x 246 in.

Inspired by the Shaker meetinghouse at Mount Lebanon, New York, George Greenamyer’s sculpture celebrates the museum’s extensive Shaker collection. The sculpture incorporates elements of the meetinghouse which are displayed on top of the locomotive. The houses represent a social ideal, a utopian image of Shaker society’s dwellings sustained by industrial power, in the form of a locomotive.Greenamyer created the wheels using metal scrap from Edaville Railroad in Carver, Massachusetts. The wheels symbolically suggest the piece is going somewhere, taking the houses along, much like a turtle travels with its shell.

Greenamyer’s kinetic artworks and public installations are intended to commemorate the golden years of industrialization. The artist completed nearly thirty commissions collaborating with public art agencies, landscape architects, museums, and transportation systems from 1964 to 1994. His inspiration comes from structural engineering, Shaker furniture, folk art, and architecture as well as French novelist and playwright, Jules Verne (1828-1905). He earned his MFA from the University of Kansas (1969) and taught at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, Boston, from 1981 to 2004, where he is now Professor Emeritus.