Cape Cod Artists Collaborate to Interpret America the Beautiful at Cape Cod Museum of Art

Oh Beautiful for Patriots Dream weaving by Beth Minear

The words of America the Beautiful were written by Cape Cod native Katharine Lee Bates and published with a tune by Samuel A. Ward in 1910. To honor the song's 100th anniversary last year, 22 Cape Cod artists collaborated on a traveling exhibition.

The exhibit debuted last July in Boston, at the Massachusetts State House, and is now on display at the Cape Cod Museum of Art from September 18 through December 11. An opening reception will be held September 25 from 2-4 p.m.

America the Beautiful, a Collaboration between Painters and Fiber Artists features the work of 22 artists, 11 painters and 11 fiber artists, who interpret individual phrases of the anthem America the Beautiful in their respective media.

As America wrestles with a difficult economic climate, political divisions, and natural disasters, the show's artistic exploration of the beauty and ultimately the meaning of the song has never seemed more relevant. To this day, phrases such as "O beautiful for spacious skies" and "from sea to shining sea" have the power to move and inspire Americans.

As seen by artist Shawn Nelson Dahlstrom, who created the vision for the exhibition and serves as its curator, "Katharine Lee Bates celebrated America's beauty. And it was a beauty amidst diversity, a beauty that transcends differences." She initially conceived the idea for this exhibition as she watched the inauguration of President Barack Obama in 2009, and felt inspired and filled with pride.

She continues, "In the diverse America of today, America the Beautiful reminds us of a unity beyond our differences, and the potential for greatness that can come from tapping into the many different talents and viewpoints that exist in this country."

It was in 2009 that Shawn first invited a group of fiber artists and painters to work in pairs to inspire each other in a weaver/painter collaboration. The initial results of those collaborations met with critical acclaim and encouraged the artists to take on the challenge of celebrating the 100th anniversary of the famous patriotic song with Cape Cod roots.

Amber Waves of Grain weaving by Sue Pellowe
Amber Waves of Grain weaving by Sue Pellowe

Each weaver/painter pair chose one line from the song and worked together on its interpretation to create images that would give viewers a renewed sense of the song's original vision. Even though people are most familiar with song's first verse, the artists took inspiration from the entire song, choosing lines from other verses as well.

Amber Waves of Grain painting by Ann Garton
Amber Waves of Grain painting by Ann Garton

Painters participating in the exhibition are: Rita Doddridge, Patricia Stark Feinstein, Anne Garton, Jane Lincoln, Barbara Melcher, Norma Mutch, Kate Nelson, Shawn Nelson Dahlstrom, Carol Odell, Suzanne Packer, and Odin Smith.

The participating fiber artists, who work in textiles such as fabric, yarn, and natural and synthetic fibers, are: Susan Clark, Sandra Godwin, Shannon Goheen, Christina Jervant, Katie Hickey, Nancy Kirchner, Beth Minear, Sue Pellowe, Janet, Rice, Gretchen Romey-Tanzer, and Elena Tobin.

Additional information about the participating artists and photographs of all the works can be found at

Oh Beautiful for Patriots Dream
painting by Suzanne Packard

America the Beautiful,
Lyrics by Katharine Lee Bates, written in 1910

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet
Whose stern impassion'd stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness.
America! America!
God mend thine ev'ry flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law.

O beautiful for heroes prov'd
In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved,
And mercy more than life.
America! America!
May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness,
And ev'ry gain divine.

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears.
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea.


Cape Cod Museum of Art
60 Hope Lane (off Route 6A)
on the grounds of Cape Cod Center for the Arts
in Dennis, MA

Admission: $8
Free for ages 18 or younger & museum members

Gallery hours through Columbus Day
Monday - Saturday, 10 am – 5 pm
Thursday until 8 pm; and Sunday, noon – 5 pm
Closed Mondays after Columbus Day


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