Academic journal article Voices: The Journal of New York Folklore

From the Editor

Academic journal article Voices: The Journal of New York Folklore

From the Editor

Article excerpt

Thirty years ago I began my first consultant job as a folklorist in upstate New York.

Crandall Library wanted to expand their budding Folk Arts Program and agreed with the folks at the New York State Council on the Arts that a young folklorist working and studying in Washington, DC, could breathe new life into their program.

I was to conduct a Folk Arts Survey of Warren County, New York. The emphasis was on finding "folk arts" and those "folk artists" that could be a part of a festival or workshop series. My job was to inspire the folks at Crandall with the wealth of folk art in their own backyard and the possibilities of future programming.

Warren County is where the Hudson River rises into the Adirondack foothills. A place of hardscrabble farms, logging and wood lots, hunting and fishing, and 150 years worth of tourism. My journey that summer became more ethnographic in approach, searching for those activities, splashes of creativity, and their practitioners that helped define the region. It was about letting the region and its people speak for themselves, and taking the time to listen.

That summer, I first encountered the tied quilts of the Johnsburg United Methodist Women (UMW). Not overly structured in design, these tied quilts were made of lots of little scrap pieces of material, somehow coming together into a colorful whole. This fun-loving group of women raised money with church suppers and craft sales at locally affordable prices, proudly pointing out the "Ladies Aid Society" stained glass window, symbolizing generations of hard work in support of their small country church. …

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