Saturday, December 3, 2011

Santa Fe: Folk Art

Corpus Christi dancers in Ecuador wear ornate headdresses like this one.
Why do people create? Think about it and make a list. I’ve been thinking about this question for a long time, and some of the reasons I have come up with are these:

·      To communicate and share ideas with others
·      To provide others with visual experiences
·      To make a record of what is happening
·      To celebrate events
·      To adorn bodies (clothing, jewelry, etc.)
·      To do something that has not been done
·      To express cultural traditions
·      To make a record of a person or object
·      To add beauty to the world

People from all cultures create and leave a record behind that highlights features of their cultures. And these people, no matter how different from each other, have much in common.

Think about the clothes you are wearing right now. Did you design and make them yourself? If not, who designed and made them? What made you choose these clothes? Are your clothes in the same style as clothes your grandparents wore at your age? If not, how are they different? What will the clothes you are wearing today tell kids one hundred years from now about life in the early 21st century? What other cultural artifacts from your life will tell future generations about your culture?

In Santa Fe, there a place called the Museum of International Folk Art. Folk art from around the world is on display and it is fascinating to view how individuals around the world have left behind interesting artifacts they created for many reasons. Do you know what folk art is? It is art created by everyday people who are not trained artists. They use whatever materials are readily available to them. Often, these artisans create functional items that are also beautiful. Look carefully at each photo below. What does it tell about the artist? What does it say about the artist’s culture?

Portable boxes from Peru were created to illustrate local scenes. What can you learn about Peru by studying this box?
What object could be more common than a gourd? Consider how a folk artist has illustrated this gourd. What is the theme of this gourd? What time period do you think it is from? What clues help you determine this?

Wood toys with moving parts are common to the Andes region. Where are the Andes Mountains located and what countries stretch across these high mountains? This object is both a toy and a piece of folk art.
These flasks were used by horsemen in the 1800s to carry water. What do we use today to carry water? If you could have one of these flasks, which one would you choose?

Would you like to wear this necklace? Why or why not?

Here is another example of artistry being used when creating a functional object. These silver spurs were worn on the heel of riding boots and were used to spur the horse along. Leather straps went over the front of the boots and chains attached to the back were looped around the ankle to help hold the spurs in place.

Many cultures create pottery, functional items generally used for holding or serving food. This majolica pottery was made in Peru and features green designs on a white background.

What purpose do you think this fellow served? He is a house blessing ornament and would have been placed on the roof of a house in Andean countries.

I was struck by the amount of effort it took to create this outfit. There are thousands of stitches all put in by hand. The folk artist chose the colors and design and then used a variety of stitches to make this a one-of-a-kind article of clothing.

People all over the world from a multitude of cultures create and wear hats. What kind of hats do you wear? Look how the folk artist decorated this hat. What materials were used?

This colorful costume was used in Bolivia to celebrate the Easter season. Many places in the world have similar celebrations. Mardi Gras and Carnival are two you may know about.

This is another headdress worn by Corpus Cristi dancers in Ecuador. Try to imagine dancing while wearing this tall piece on your head.

Clothing can be considered folk art. These are bridal gowns from Macedonia. Each one is different and took a long time to create. The artistry and handwork are outstanding. How are wedding dresses in your culture different? Why do women wear special dresses when they get married?

This wedding coat was on display and available for trying on. It weighs 21 pounds! When I put it on, my shoulders sagged from the weight, but I felt very festive.

What are the features of this wedding outfit? It may seem very different to us, but our wedding dresses would seem strange to the Macedonians.

This amazing tapestry must have taken months and months (or years) to create. Each animal was created using a variety of stitches.
As I was leaving the museum, I spied a quote that I found to be significant: "The art of the craftsman is a bond between the peoples of the world"--Florence Dibell Bartlett. How do you think that art unites us a people no matter what culture we come from?

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