IFAM: Living with Folk Art

There are many reasons why we buy folk art but there are those universal threads among folk art collectors that begin to take shape when thinking about what it means to live with folk art. Living with Folk Art is a series of personal essays on what compels us to share our lives with handmade art and the communities from around the world that enrich our lives. 

Terra Cotta Appassionata, Charlene Cerny

What a joy to be asked to write something under the rubric “Living with Folk Art,” allowing me to reflect on my long engagement with the handmade and the many things I have loved (and sometimes lost) that give me pure delight, pause, and wonder. Looking around my home today, the accumulation of things that…
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Folk Art: My Favorite Story Form, Kavita Parmar

I am a story junkie. I have to finish every book or movie I start as curiosity would kill me otherwise. Even as a young girl I would hide novels inside my science books pretending as if I was doing my biology homework. My family, like any self-respecting Indian clan, hoped their daughter would be…
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Generational Threads, Suzanne Turner

I had never realized my lifelong love affair with folk art until I began attending the International Folk Arts Market over a decade ago. And I never wondered why I was so drawn to the art form until I was asked to write this brief essay. Like any other collector’s passion, my connection to folk…
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A Rug As Antidote, Mary Anne Wise

My parents bought me McCall’s Giant Golden Make-It Book when I was 8 years old. Within the pages of this beloved book, I learned to scout and gather common household materials and transform these materials into useful objects. A thin dowel with a wooden clothespin glued to the top and the opposite dowel end sunk…
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Women of the Cloth, Susan Hull Walker

I grew up in a home with my father’s academic library on the top floor and my mother’s windowless sewing room in the basement. He was an orator, a man of the word; she a couture-worthy seamstress and homemaker.  I perched in-between. Early on, I followed my father’s path into the study of religion at…
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Family Tradition, Colvin English

  In the early 1970s, my parents moved us to the outskirts of Fredericksburg, Virginia, on the Fall Line between the Piedmont and Tidewater regions, an area with a rich farming tradition dating back to the founding of our nation. Having grown up in rural communities in the deep South, they wanted my brother and…
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Living with Folk Art, Laurie Gilberg Vander Velde

    Our fascination with masks started in 1994 on a family trip to San Miguel de Allende during Semana Santa. My husband Michael and I fell in love with a mask of a hornblower with a feathered headdress and couldn’t wait to see more masks. At a local mask shop, I had to rein…
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Very Personal, Marcella Echavarria

I live by the mantra “everything is personal” so writing about living with folk art is simply a description of my own life´s journey.  Let’s start from the beginning, I was born in Colombia and grew up in a family that valued the handmade in all its forms: food was grown in the countryside farm,…
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Stories that Connect, Mary Littrell

  When asked about favorite folk art, people love to tell stories. I first began hearing these stories 35 years ago when my family lived in Malaysia for a year. The Director General of Kraftangan Malaysia, a government ministry focused on tourism and arts, invited me to join as a researcher for marketing initiatives. My…
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Presentation with Purpose, Paul Andrew

    There’s a bit of sacredness involved anytime I invite an object into my home, particularly a decorative element. It isn’t allegiance to a style or movement, or that I’m a ‘collector’ of particular things. I’m speaking of energy — the magnetism of an object generated by its beauty, function, and the story that…
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Folk Art: A Love Story, Stuart Ashman 

My earliest memories of appreciating the handmade came perhaps from a visit to the house of my neighbor and friend, Rigoberto Garcia Espinoza in the town of Matanzas, Cuba where I spent my childhood. Rigoberto lived in a house that his father had built along with his mother and ten siblings. The house was made…
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Ottoman Continuum, Peter Speliopoulos

    Being of Greek descent, I always had a taste for the exotic, and a passion for ancient cultures and antiquities. Grandmothers created handmade lace, and embroidered, and crocheted, in traditions they brought over from the “old “ country, having left the Peloponnesus around 1915. This early exposure to Folk art, and the memory…
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A Folk Art Journey, Peggy Gaustad

  Over 40 years ago, I set off for a two year MFA program in ceramics in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.  I had never been to Mexico and I didn’t speak Spanish. Those two years would be transformational and inform who I am today. I had begun working in clay in California in the…
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