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American Folk Art

Art History/Craft History, Craft, Handloom, Art, Museums, Collections

American Folk Art: Historical, Beautiful and Bizarre

McComb, Jessie F.

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It has now been a little over a year since I returned from India and started writing Postmark America. I remember the sensation I felt last year as fall set in and I was embraced by the warmth, tradition and spirit of autumn in America's Northeast. During this time of year people often pause to reminisce about their family and cultural traditions. They spend more time than usual decorating their houses with handmade crafts and take the time to enjoy a slower paced life.

With this in mind, I embarked on an investigation of American folk art thinking that I would come across meticulously crafted quilts and craved wooden furniture representative early America. Instead, I found a kinship of folk artists very much in tune with the contemporary world, as well as an audience eager to be engaged by these creative masters. But what surprised me most was the depth and variety of art being created and of philosophies on what makes something folk art or someone a folk artist. To start with the most traditional representation of folk art, I did a little research on the American Folk Art Museum, located in the heart of cosmopolitan America: New York. Even this stronghold of traditional folk art displays pieces that vary from the norm. Their newest permanent exhibit, Folk Art Revealed, covers a wide array of folk art that was made throughout the eighteenth, ninetieth and twentieth centuries, with even a few pieces from our current age. The exhibit revolved around four themes that are found in all pi...

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