Artist Club
Culture Worldwide: Folk Art
(by  6/19/2016)

Art produced by the people belonging to an indigenous cultural group or other laboring tradespeople is often referred to as folk art. The primary intent of folk arts is utilitarian in addition to being decorative as opposed to fine art which is purely aesthetic. Typically the rules of proportion and perspective are not applied in this form of art which has a very naïve style and appeal.

The nature of folk art is deeply woven within the particular culture it belongs to. It is a phenomenon that can provide a narrative of the culture’s move towards civilization, but can gradually become obscure with modernity, industrialization, or exposure to other cultures. Folk art tends to vary in style with geographical and cultural diversity that may make it difficult to define in details.

Typically folk art is neither influenced by the movement nor the styles of academic or fine art. Also, folk art does not include the works that are executed by professional artists that are sold as fine art to connoisseurs. Some of the folk artists however, have been known to create main stream art and make their living from the huge body of work they have produced.

Terms like naïve art, working class art/blue collar art, primitive art, tramp art, tribal art, outsider art, popular art, though controversial have often been used interchangeably for folk art.

Folk art tends to express a unique cultural identity by reflecting inherent shared community values and aesthetic sensibility. It has a diverse range of utilitarian and aesthetic media that includes fabric, wood, paper, clay, metal and many more. Where the traditional media falls short or becomes unavailable, new or substitute materials are often employed giving a contemporary form to traditional folk arts. The folk arts tend to reflect traditional art forms of varied community groups based on ethnicity, tribes, religion, occupation, geography, age, or gender that identify amongst themselves and with the society at large. Folk art and the skill of it is disseminated through the system of apprenticeship, mostly in informal community structures in addition to the formal education that may be provided to the budding folk artists. The style of folk art is direct, simple and greatly colorful.

Antique folk art is revered and highly coveted as a fine art. It however differs from traditional art in the fact that it was never meant to be art for the sake of art but had another purpose at the time of its creation e.g. weather vanes, carousel horses, cast iron doorstops, carved handles and many more such articles that qualify as whimsical antiques today.

Some of the folk arts like quilting, ornamental picture framing etc. continue to thrive even today in its contemporary form. These contemporary folk artists are typically self-taught within community driven small setups splattered all across the country. Elito Circa for example is a famed name in the world of folk art who has developed his very own style without any professional training or supervision from the maestros.


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