American Folk Art refers to the 19th century rise in appreciation of art created and inspired by “common” land and experience. Folk Art comes from humble beginnings and many of the Folk artists we celebrate today would not have considered themselves artists as they were left out of the grand narrative of fine art. However, these artists were developing a visual language of their own, using found objects and materials to depict rural life and the land around them. There are many “types” of art that overlap with Folk Art and it is important to recognize the role of Native Americans in the influence of American Folk artists today. Globally, much of art history has considered the art of Native groups to be “outsider” art, and in the late 19th century began to be incorporated into the definition of Folk Art. As a result, much of American Folk Art returns to the relationship of Natives to the American landscape and many contemporary Folk artists are inspired by indigenous knowledge. Folk Art is an increasingly important art style as it has generationally documented the change in the flora and fauna of American lands and pushes back against the erasure of “outsider” culture.
Last month, our gallery welcomed our first American Folk artist! “Cornbread,” as he is known to his family and friends, was raised on a farm in Lumpkin County, GA. He has held a variety of jobs including being a butcher, a mechanic, a police officer, and manager of a farm. He loved to paint as a child but as an adult he never considered himself an artist— a common through-line with other Folk artists. Around 1995, he began being inspired by native regional painters, and realized that not all ‘good art’ was in the style of the old masters. Using bright acrylic colors and large pieces of wood, he captures what is fast being pushed out as rural spaces change, or even disappear. He draws his subjects from the farmland he works & the woods he hunts.
We are so excited to have Cornbread in the gallery and show our support in recognizing Folk artists everywhere!