Anna asks, "Does contemporary folk art have to reference the past?"
I personally have defined Contemporary Folk Art as the beautiful expression of a people or nation. I did this because I wanted to create an art that was not responsible to the domain of International Contemporary post-Post Modern Conceptual Art which to me often seems like a space station that is gradually drifting further out of Earth's orbit.
Folk art itself is, I believe, in its academic sense an art primarily by people without a formal training in the Fine Arts and Art Theory. Folk Art by nature and from an art historical or museum view point is about the character of a nation - an art grown from the soil, or broad culture of a country. It becomes a vessel of the nation's soul because it is relatively unrestrained by the formal aesthetics of western art culture. I could not, therefore, call myself a Folk artist because I'm not insensible to the art historical reading of art and understand my stance or artistic desires as being generated with the assistance of formal academic training in Art History and Art Theory.
I can not presume to remove my knowledge and the influence training has on my work, however I can consciously make the choice that addresses my need to create work, that is, to cherish the soil of my country as the tender dream that lifts us to the glad day of a life of grace. It may take many forms but is a genuine product of today rather than a cosmetic quaintness and anachronism. It might be helpful then to consider my use of term Contemporary Folk Art more loosely as an art movement like for example The Fauves were.
In short, I hope to be able to offer, in my small way and in all manifestations of my work, a door through which the people of my own home culture might walk. Our myths are not yet complete as we are barely conscious of them. It is still a time for artists to dream and give life a shape: perhaps we Australian's, still young within the consciousness of Western tradition, act as a reminder for a generation of artists that Creation is still possible - aren't we a nation of rule breakers?
Image: Glad Day (or "The Dance of Albion"), William Blake, 1795, 10 1/4" x 8", British Museum, London.