Folk Memories: The Paintings of Emma Schrock at the Midwest Museum of American Art

Emma Schrock was born in Wakarusa in 1924 and began painting at age 40. Stricken with a physical handicap from birth, she was unable to marry and thus bear children. Her paintings, like for many artists, became like children to her. While her Old Order Mennonite community forbade the depiction of the human form, Schrock was allowed to paint and sell her pictures in order to make a living.

As a Folk artist, Schrock painted from memories gathered from her childhood and things she experienced among the Amish/Mennonite community such as scenes of one-room schools, barn raising, and quilting tables; all typical of the artist’s output. As Schrock said, “I live what I paint and I paint what I see.” She was able to make one painting a day and this became her work ethic for the rest of her life. While it is estimated that she made over 2,000 works in 25 years as an artist, it is her earlier work (1964-1980) that is most authentically naive and most highly prized by collectors.

The MMAA Permanent Collection currently maintains 27 works by the artist three of which were purchased from her first solo, public art exhibit, in 1979 at the museum. While Emma Schrock died in 1991, her paintings are still being collected today by enthusiasts from northern Indiana to Lancaster, Pennsylvania.