Sunday, December 03, 2006

Why I like Folk Art - part 1

"(folk art)...owe their timeless appeal in part to their simplicity and familiarity and in part to the manner in which they were interpreted. The accomplished folk artist, often far removed from sophisticated centres of culture, captured intentionally or not the intrinsic beauty of everyday objects and freely adapted traditional symbols.

"In the personal touches - the oddly placed Z on the alphabet quilt, a mermaid holding a bow and arrow - we are reminded of the endless resoursefulness of the individual spirit in imparting to ordinary images an extraordinary vitality."

Quote from the book, "From A to Z: A Folk Art Alphabet" by Karen M. Jones, A Main Street Press Book, Mayflower Books, New York City, 1978. Library of Congress Catalogue Card Number 78-61870

Image 1: Merimaid, by Mary Ann Wilson, 1800-1820, ink and watercolour on paper, 13 x 16 inches. New York Historical Association, USA.

Image 2: Alphabet Quilt, c. 1875, found in Berks County, Pennsylvania, USA. Cotton, 801/2 x 80 inches, Pivate Collection.


lotusgreen said...

that's why i like african music--the musical equivilent of that 'z.'

i love that mermaid; you might like... oh shoot--it's up too high, i'll post it later....

but hey girl--you have now gotten me totally addicted!!!!

lotusgreen said...

ok--i found it:

the book is called: Artists in Tune With Their World: Popular Artists of the Americas from the Selden Rodman Collection

and i found a website about the collection:

jude said...

hey, i have a book with this alphabet quilt. i have started to use library thing so i can document my collection and finally know what i have :-). anyway, this quilt was my original inspiration for a baby quilt i made like 20 years ago. i guess you know that many quilts have misplaced blocks, an expression based on deliberate imperfection. the "only god can make a tree" thing.

Florence said...

Lotusgreen, Thanks for the recommendation. Have you checked out LibraryThing's Unsuggestions, quite funny :)

(I'm still thinking about my reply to your comment over on Japonisme.)

Jude, Wow! how amazing :) I didn't know about the misplaced block being linked to a Christian religious concept, so that was very enlightening. I have been using the technique of the "odd one out" for some time in my own work. It seems to free up a composition; in Chinese art theory something like this would circulate the qi outside of the "picture". Oddly, a "imperfection" such as this for me points towards human consciousness as it is apposed to a ridged mathematical repetion.


jude said...

actually considering the number of letters in the alphabet, this odd one out was a fairly logical decision, where else would she put it? :-).

A Army Of (Cl)One said...

Why is everyone tied to the orthodoxy of moving poor Z. Z always gets messed around with, just because it is last in line. I vote for one of the 'Popular" letter to be booted next time like A or E or even the ever stuck up R.

What makes R so great anyway, that is what I want to know.

*whoa, where did that come from :)

Jean-Luc Picard said...

You have good reasons; they are certainly timeless in their appeal.

Florence said...

Jude, that was the first thing that crossed my mind too ;)

AOC, Z gets so few opportunities that it is sad to see it slide off the good seats. perhaps we should start with Z and encourage the backwards alphabet. (I once taught myself to say the alphabet backwards...but don't ask me to recite it now though lol)

Captain, glad you like them. The Christmas party on Picard's Journal is looking good!



shango said...

Just to add my 5 cents worth to this interesting aesthetic, It seems that a static composition feels moribund; does not correspond to the ubuquity of the fragmentary status of the picture plane in our life, i.e the natural environment in particular.
As such, to overcome origin or departure is demarcated. Japanese potters give birth marks to their pots, and well, i dont know nowadays but generally, a so called perfect face i s bland, and so a crooked tooth for example is highly respected as a part of the beauty of a woman for instance.
Is it really based on a superstition? or is it just the aesthetes keen sense for aesthetics?

About folk art - "captured intentionally or not the intrinsic beauty of everyday objects and freely adapted traditional symbols." - what distinguishes it from fine art? i wonder about this as sometimes that distinction is blurred, i think it depends sometimes on its importance to select groups defining what it is. In th eold QAG, there is a rare drawing by an Aboriginal man, who drew in a naive western manner a corroboree. Could it be folk? Its historical importance for a nation elevates it it seems.
I think folk art springs from a close relationship with the environment along with the verbal cultures that are maybe a little more fluid in relation to sociological influences. By envionemnt i mean natural , and predominantly agrarian cultures (more to speculate hear but I`ll leave it).
That close relationship i think is about a sensuality not mediated by a consciously conceptualising consciousness. As i heard once, like doing a shit. So It comes out as part of a culture, not contrived.
and is successivley built upon, slightly adapted here and there by aeons of generations.
So folk art takes its time to evolve, so called modern art has no time!! for some reason. Where does `outsider art` fit into this i wonder?


shango said...

i misused elevate, i`ll burn in hell for that.