Folk Art and Artists: The Series

By Pocius, Gerald L | Western Folklore, Winter 1997 | Go to article overview

Folk Art and Artists: The Series


Pocius, Gerald L, Western Folklore


Folk Art and Artists: The Series

The Holiday Yards of Florencio Morales: "El Hombre de las Banderas". By Amy V. Kitchener. 1994. Pp. 72. $29.50 (cloth); $15.95 (paper)

Santeria Garments and Altar Speaking Without a Voice By Ysamur Flores-Pena and Roberta J. Evanchuk. 1994. Pp. 72. $29.50 (cloth); $15.95 (paper)

Americana Crafted: Jehu Camper Delaware Whittler. By Robert D. Bethke. 1995. Pp. 71. $32.50 (cloth); $16.95 (paper)

Chain-Saw Sculptor: The Art of J. Chester Skip" Armstrong. By Sharon R Sherman. 1995. Pp. 72. $29.50 (cloth); $15.95 (paper)

Chicano Graffiti and Murals: The Neighborhood Art of Peter Quezada. By Sojin Kim. 1995. Pp. 72. $32.50 (cloth); $16.95 (paper)

Earls Art Shop: Building Art with Earl Simmons. By Stephen Flinn Young and D. C. Young. 1995. Pp. 72. $32.50 (cloth); $16.95 (paper)

Punk and Neo-Tribal Body Art. By Daniel Wojcik. 1995. Pp. 72. $29.95 (cloth), $15.95 (paper)

Sew to Speak: The Fabric Art of Mary Milne. By Linda Pershing. 1995. Pp. 72. $29.95 (cloth); $15.95 (paper)

Vietnam Remembered: The Folk Art of Marine Combat Veteran Michael D. Cousino, Sr.. By Varick A. Chittenden. 1995. Pp. 72. $29.95 (cloth); $15.95 (paper)

Home Is Where the Dog Is: Art in the Back Yard. By Karen E. Burgess. 1996 . Pp. 72. $35 (cloth); $17.95 (paper)

Birds in Wood: The Carvings of Andrew Zergenyi. By Melissa Ladenheim. 1996. Pp. 72. $35 (cloth); $17.95 (paper)

All volumes published by University Press of Mississippi, Jackson, MI. The University Press of Mississippi began its "Folk Art and Artists" series in 1994, with a number of monographs planned dealing with a broad range of creative arts. These books are short case studies, usually comprised of around 40 pages of text, followed by approximately 30 pages of color plates. Each monograph is meant to be a brief case study of a particular tradition, intended for a general readership.

Reviewing books that are part of a series can be a different task than reviewing each book separately; instead of merely listing the contents, strengths and weaknesses of each volume, it is more useful to find common links that indicate why the series is important, what are the overall strengths of the volumes, and how an editor might have shaped what was finally chosen for inclusion. These are my intentions here. The "Folk Art and Artists" Series, Western Folklore 55 (Winter, 1997):85-98 85 started in 1994 under the Editorship of Michael Owen Jones, has a clear mission statement as expressed adjacent the title page of each volume:

Books in this series focus on the work of informally trained or selftaught artists rooted in regional, occupational, ethnic, racial, or genderspecific traditions. Authors explore the influence of artists' experiences and aesthetic values upon the art they create, the process of creation, and the cultural traditions that served as inspiration or personal resource. The wide range of art forms featured in this series reveals the importance of aesthetic expression in our daily lives and gives striking testimony to the richness and vitality of art and tradition in the modern world. This series, not surprisingly, shows the influence of Jones' behavioral view of artistic activity in the choice of who and what is studied (Jones 1993). These choices logically fall under specific categories: What can be considered folk art? What are the characteristics of the makers? What role does folk art play in the everyday life of the maker?

In these volumes, folk art clearly is not something from a disappearing past, but is a quite vibrant activity in late twentieth-century America. However, some of these studies inadvertently perpetuate the notion that folk art somehow resembles "folk" versions of elite art. Seven of the books deal with wooden sculptural forms: Earl Simmons's making of toys; Michael Cousino's diorama sculptures of his Vietnam experiences; Jehu Camper's whittled scenes of his Delaware farm life; Chester Armstrong's chainsaw sculpture; the carved birds of Andrew Zergenyi; the yard art of Florencio Morales and Carlton Burgess. …

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