Friday, September 28, 2018

Folk Art Defined

Black Ceramics by Omar & Miguel Fabian (2)
Humans seem to have a deep-seated need to make their mark on their physical surroundings. For many millennia, perhaps forever, we have painted cave walls, etched designs into rock, and made decorated our tools, cooking utensils, and clothing. Much of what we made had functional value, but a great deal of effort went into making the things around us aesthetically pleasing and often carried ceremonial intent. 

Example: Barro Negro - Black Clay. 
As early as two thousand years ago in the valleys  surrounding Oaxaca in central Mexico, Zapotec Indians, in a settlement known as the place of many jaguars, were making dark gray, matte pots and dishes from the local clay.
After the Spanish conquest, the village was renamed San Bartolome Coyotepec.

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Art, in its beginnings, was a form of communication … with other humans beings, and, perhaps, with those in the spirit world and those beings who might control or influence our physical experience.

FOLK ART is the art of the everyday.
FOLK ART is rooted in traditions that come from community and culture.
FOLK ART expresses cultural identity by conveying shared community values and aesthetics.

At a demonstration at Doña Rosa’s Workshop, Fernando Nieto Carrillo kneaded a lump of dark clay while explaining the process to a tour group audience. When the clay felt right he put it on a plate on top of a smaller plate and began to spin the clay as he worked it. Slowly, he formed it into a perfectly round pot.
Folk art consists of non-industrial, non-mass-produced everyday items such as baskets, cooking pots, candle holders, towels, place mats, clothing and whimsical but useful items such as chocolate fluffers. 

These functional and decorative items are generally made from regional materials such as clay, wood, cotton, reeds, stone, and natural dye materials such as cochineal insects, marigolds, and an endangered snail. Colors used in black clay, hand-woven materials, baskets, and jewelry come from the earth rather than from a laboratory.

Mural at Doña Rosa Workshop
However, Folk Art is not a dusty relic of the past. Master folk art craftsmen meld the past and the present, using new materials, designs and processes to create a dynamic, living tradition.

For centuries, few changes were made in the black clay pottery making processes.
In the 1950s, a young potter, Rosa Real discovered that by polishing 
the clay pieces before they were completely dry and lowering the firing temperature
 the clay changed its color to a shiny black. (1)
Doña Rosa's innovation was an immediate success and her workshop
in San Bartolome Coyotepec has been visited by dignitaries 
such as Nelson Rockefeller and President Jimmy Carter.

And, as the Museum of International Folk Art states: FOLK ART fosters connections between art and people with a creative spirit that unites all the cultures of the world.


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