I am planning a new podcast series about the history of folk arts in Indiana tentatively titled Indiana Folk Arts: 200 Years of Arts and Crafts in the Hoosier State. The aim is to identify 200 folk artists and objects for our state’s bicentennial in 2016. I will feature one artist for each year of our state’s history. As a folklorist, I know many contemporary folk artists in our state, but I need help finding crafts and folk art objects from Indiana’s past. My aim is to highlight artists from each of Indiana’s 92 counties, while trying to show the diversity of our state. I will include limestone carvers from Lawrence County, a potter from Park County and a basket maker from Brown County. I am asking for help identifying artists from all of the counties.
What do I mean by folk art? Folk art refers to the handmade crafts and works of art that individuals make that are expressions of their personal and cultural identity. Henry Glassie, in his Spirit of Folk Art (1989) described it this way:
Remember that art is the result of the merger of people and materials. It records the interaction of human beings with their physical environments. When we qualify that interaction as folk, we stress its social dimensions… And the artists act so as to connect again to social reality. Saying “folk art,” we emphasize the cultural aspects of every endeavor (Glassie, 88).
Some examples might be christening gowns made for a grandchild, a gravestone carved for a loved one, furniture fashioned for a neighbor or a quilt made for warmth.
I am asking for nomination of objects that could be included in this podcast. I need: 1) Name of artist if known, 2) a specific object being nominated, 3) the year that the object was made (if not known, an approximate date or range), 4) any support information such as item location, owner, historical data, etc. A photograph would be great, if you have one.
Keep in mind, I will be researching each of these. Your help is in making me aware of items and artists, so don’t feel like you have to do a lot of research up front. Feel free to nominate as many works as you like. I am especially interested in objects and artists from Indiana’s Native American and immigrant communities in your region. Do you have a tradition of quilt making, woodcarving, pottery, basketry, or other art? Also look for distinctive items. I could focus this project on gravestones or quilts, but I want to include as many genres as possible.
I want to thank you for your help in the early stages of this project. I probably won’t start releasing podcast episodes until January 2014. However, I will be researching and producing them throughout this year so let me know your thoughts ASAP.