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Contemporary Folk Art in the US

, Contemporary Folk Art in the US

folk art, art movement, young artists, art critics

Contemporary Folk Art in the US

 

folk art, art movement, young artists, art critics

folk art, art movement, young artists, art critics

 

In many major metropolitan areas in the US, young artists are leading urban folk art revivals that hearken back to traditional techniques used by settlers in the time before the Industrial Revolution. The market for hand-produced crafts and goods is booming, partially due to the US’s reduced manufacturing capacity but also because young artists all over the country have seized upon artisanal markets that were previously thought not to exist. From hand-operated looms to hand-dipped candles to birdhouses to traditional iron blacksmithing, the folk art revival in the US has resurrected many techniques that were on the brink of extinction. Following in the wake of the craftspeople, artists have taken these techniques and started to produce both historical recreations and new productions at local folk art galleries around the US.

 

folk art, art movement, young artists, art critics

folk art, art movement, young artists, art critics

 

Some of this folk art has found its way into the tiny house movement, as millennials search for new paths to home ownership despite high debt, low employment prospects, and other symptoms of the global economic downturn. Within the tiny house movement, many recycled building materials and woodworking techniques have been employed in producing small, mobile homes capable of subverting building codes in many more rural jurisdictions. Musically, the folk art revivals have been responsible for resurrecting many of the almost-lost melodies and musical records of Appalachia, which themselves drew on European musical traditions imported during the time of the area’s European settling.

 

folk art, art movement, young artists, art critics

folk art, art movement, young artists, art critics

 

Art critics have had difficulty categorizing this particular art movement, as much of it is composed of techniques and styles that have been seen before at different points in US history. Some art critics choose to emphasize the commercial aspect of many of the folk art revivals, explaining the techniques as a way for young artists to seek employment by creating a new domestic market for upscale handmade crafts. Other art critics see this commercial revival as cheapening an authentic art movement, choosing to define true art as that which does not depend upon regular sales but rather purely as an expression of an artist’s creativity. Whichever side one may fall on, however, we must confront the fact that without these new markets for handmade crafts, traditional folk art techniques would have all but disappeared in many parts of the country, being relegated to museums and online art galleries. With the art movement spreading, however, folk art techniques and styles have been preserved for many generations to come, and in some cases have been improved by modern adjustments (such as new insulation material used in traditional blacksmithing forges) to the traditional processes.

 

Keywords: folk art, art movement, young artists, art critics