An Attleboro Arts Museum Invitational Exhibition Inspired by Joy Harjo’s An American Sunrise 

Exhibition: Saturday, September 18th – Saturday, September 25th, 2021.

Gallery hours: Tuesday – Saturday 10am – 5pm.  Admission and parking are free.

NEA Big Read Kickoff and Exhibition Reception: Saturday, September 18th, 2pm – 4pm. Free and open to all. Kindly RSVP by Friday, September 17th: office@attleboroartsmuseum.org or 508.222.2644 x10.


Since 2007, the Attleboro Arts Museum has been an active partner in the City of Attleboro’s NEA Big Read reading initiative.  In this National Endowment for the Arts program participants are encouraged to read the same book at the same time – and extend their connection to the chosen text through local arts and culture activities.

In fall 2021 the City of Attleboro will be reading An American Sunrise, a collection of poems by Joy Harjo, the first Native American poet laureate of the United States. In response, the Attleboro Arts Museum presents Honoring, an invitational exhibition inspired by a Harjo poem of the same name.


About Honoring

According to the Farmer’s Almanac, singing to a plant helps it to photosynthesize.  The carbon dioxide serenade enhances its growth. Wise farmers lovingly sing to their harvest; they honor their crops. 

How often do we sing to the farmer?  Do we honor the hard-working growers of our food? Do we acknowledge those that have sacrificed to produce essential items?

Poet Joy Harjo asks these questions in her work, Honoring, a thoughtful piece in her best-selling collection of poetry, An American Sunrise (published in 2019).  In Honoring, Harjo prompts the reader to dig into how our plates are filled, how our garments materialize, and reminds us that little should be taken for granted.

2020 and 2021 have pointed us in the same direction.  We have recognized those that sacrificed for our consumption – our survival – and we paused to honor the essential.  Time will tell if this overdue appreciation will endure and be woven into the fabric of our consciousness. 

The Honoring exhibition at the Attleboro Arts Museum shines a light on workers/makers/providers, their circumstances, their traditions, and the results of their extraordinary efforts. Using a range of art disciplines, it will present direct interpretations of Harjo’s poem alongside reflections of individuals that selflessly kept populations going during the coronavirus pandemic.    


Exhibiting Artists

Paula Stebbins Becker

Fehmida Chipty

Francisco Colom

Natasha Dikareva

Shelly Eager

Natalie Featherston

John Ferrigno

Martha Heller

Suzanne Hoffman

Marc Jaffe

Matt Kattman

Linda Klein

Deb Kracht

Mary McCusker

Lynsea Montanari

Eli Nixon

Beverly Rippel

Abby Rovaldi

Angel Beth Smith

Gregory Steinsieck


Honoring by Joy Harjo

Who sings to the plants

That are grown for our plates?

Are they gathered lovingly

In aprons or arms?

Or do they suffer the fate

Of the motor-driven whip

Of the monster reaper?

No song at all, only

The sound of money

Being stacked in a bank

Who stitched the seams in my clothes

One line after another?

Was the room sweaty and dark

With no hour to spare?

Did she have enough to eat?

Did she have a home anywhere?

Or did she live on the floor?

And where were the children?

Or was the seamstress the child

With no home of his or her own?

Who sacrifices to make clothes

For strangers of another country?

And why?

Let’s remember to thank the grower of food

The picker, the driver,

The sun and the rain.

Let’s remember to thank each maker of stitch

Any layer of pattern,

The dyer of color

In the immense house of beauty and pain.

Let’s honor the maker.

Let’s honor what’s made.

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Image by Shelly Eager

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