Folk Art: A Definition
Although nearly everyone has probably heard of folk art, many people may not know exactly what it is or what kind of art it refers to. One definition states that folk art is a genre of art of unknown origin that reflects the traditional values of a society. Folk art is typically not what most people think of when they hear the word “art.” It is not usually in the form of paintings or Greek-like sculptures. Another definition states that folk art is a result of ordinary people expressing themselves through their creation and construction of utilitarian objects that convey meaning and value to themselves or others within their culture. Typically the patterns, motifs, techniques and materials have special significance and can reveal a great deal about a cultural society.
The Value of Folk Art
Because the construction and everything involved in folk art reveals much about the essential values or characteristics of a society, folk art is often studied by historians and anthropologists as an artistic window into what an ancient culture was like. Many times folk art is found at archaeological sites in the form of bowls, jars, or other pottery that were made by ancient cultures like the Incas, Aztecs, etc. By carefully studying folk art and its little details, archaeologists can make speculations about when a culture might have lived, what their daily lives were like and why they are no longer exist.
Aside from this kind of folk art, other functional objects like clothing, furniture, houses, kitchen utensils, etc. are often considered folk art because although they are everyday objects, their final form carries a certain beauty, expression and significance that elevates the objects above the daily mundane to the inspired artistic. Folk art is not only something that was made or created by generations long ago, either. Folk art is still being produced around the world and is actually even gaining in popularity. However, folk art is generally studied and learned in a different manner than that of more traditional art; it is often learned through serious apprenticeships or passed down among family members from generation to generation.