Folk Art

Our Folk Art examples are colorful, bright, and full of humor. They celebrate life, art, and materials. The forms are traditional and group-related; the interpretation is very much an expression of the individual creating within that culture. Using recognizable materials (bits of chain, gum wrappers, rocks, cloth scraps, curtain rods), these artists make us see common and even discarded objects in fresh ways. Once narrowly defined as art by untrained people using minimal materials to produce functional forms, we now use a wider definition for Folk Art. Wikipedia says folk artists “reflect the cultural life of a community. The art form encompasses the expressive culture associated with the fields of folklore and cultural heritage.”
The majority of the pieces in this collection are made from wood, some painted in electric colors, some building on nature. Their makers were not setting out to be artists; instead, noticing something unusual in a tree such as a burled branch or bulging root, they then shaped the wood in ways to delight others. Hickory nuts with faces, an ark with an unexpected occupant, and dolls that dance with their partners are among the pieces that continue to charm Gallery visitors. Objects in other collections categories wander in and out of the Folk Art definition and would be just as comfortable being defined as Folk Art as they are as Coverlet, Quilt, Furniture, or Basket.

Woodworker Andy Hylton “discovered” Aster (and a twin named Disaster) within a cucumber tree root in the woods near his home just outside of Willis. Aster’s rhinoceros horn is carved from a chestnut fence rail.

When describing the culture of the mountain people of Floyd County, I often say, “We make things.” When the Arts & Crafts Festival first started in Floyd County in the early seventies, my mother and ladies in the community loved to go. They seldom had money to buy, but they would look and study, and come home, and “make.”

Catherine Vaughn Pauley