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Forum » Art Discussion » Handmade Folk Art » how does children's art fit into folk art?
how does children's art fit into folk art?
outsider Date: Tuesday, 20.10.2009, 20:16 | Message # 1

I appreciate the high brow answers I got to my outsider vs. folk art question and I'm back with another...

Can children make folk art? Folk art can seem simple and some could call it childish, but this is obviously not always the case. Do you think folk artists must be adults? What's the difference between children and adults making art for fun?

I've framed some of my kids work and I enjoy looking at it everyday. Part of this is proud parent but part of this is also appreciating some pretty decent artwork...

Guest Date: Tuesday, 20.10.2009, 20:16 | Message # 2

This is an interesting question, and it could be expanded to art in general. When is children's art any kind of recognized art?

When it comes to folk art I will say that I hate it when people look at a great folk art painting and say "oh, my kid could draw that". This is especially the case when the artist has a simple technique and uses basic colour palettes (say like Joe Sleep) . Some people will not think something is art unless it's Robert Bateman realistic. I'm not trying to put Robert Bateman down, but some people cannot see the art in folk art.

I'm going a bit off topic, sorry. In terms of children making folk art? I'd have to say no. Kids can certainly share a love of creation with folk artists, and a lack of formal training, but they are not drawing on life experiences or cultural history. Folk Art has symbolism and relates closely to the artist's personal history and geography. Folk Artists can develop sophisticated visual styles and their work progresses and evolves.

I think it's great to frame pieces of your kids' work (my parents certainly still have some of mine up on the walls) but I have to say my official answer is that children's art is not folk art. It's art, it can be great, and the good stuff should be cherished. But it's not folk art. Anyone agree? Disagree?

Guest Date: Tuesday, 20.10.2009, 20:17 | Message # 3

Interesting perspective... but when does 'children's art' evolve into folk art?

My daughter, a very talented artist from a young age. Now I wouldn't have defined her art at the age of 3 as 'saleable', but I would define it as folk art.

In large part because Jessica tells her stories through her art It was her first and primary communication tool. At 3 yrs old she told jokes, and stories in wordless comic strips.

Ok, I'll accept an arguement that maybe that isn't folk art.

However, now she's 16, and working in any number of different mediums, she's had some training over the years, but not a lot of 'formal' art lessons. Her art still tells a story, she still uses it as her most verbose communication tool.

At what age or point do we say art goes from being 'child' art to folk art? And if that isn't an arbitrary number, how do we define it?

Guest Date: Tuesday, 20.10.2009, 20:17 | Message # 4

The age is 12. That's the line.

Just kidding It's hard to say where that line falls, and indeed it's a bit different for every individual human being - to generalize, I'm thinking about the line between childhood and adulthood.

On the one hand, I want to dissent with cassyroo and approach this from the point of view of art being in the eye of the beholder. The quality of vision in a folk art painting or sculpture, in some cases, should be paramount. A great piece of art speaks to it's audience, and the particulars of who the artist is, while interesting, might be considered totally irrelevant. Does it matter if the artist is 10 or 60? If appreciated from a purely aesthetic point of view, then no it doesn't.

But that point of view is flawed too, because in folk art (and art in general), the perspective of the artist can be so much a part of appreciation and value of the piece. That's where you think of art not in a purely aesthetic way, but as a form of communication - which is what Ocean's Edge touched on. In communication it matters very much who is speaking - culturally, socio-economically, what is their perspective? Where are they in their lives? What life experiences have they had and how do those experiences speak subtly through their communication?

The answer may lie somewhere in the middle. Good art is both aesthetic and communicative.

So, here's my opinion. Not all "children's art" should be considered folk art. But some children may be able to produce art that can be considered folk art.

I would imagine that at 3 years old, a person is still learning to communicate and is not aware enough of themselves and their environment to have formed a coherent perspective. The art they create at that early age is still art, but it's developmental, individual, expressive, but not informed enough to be truly deliberate.

By 16, all that has probably changed. By then a person's perspective has matured and while it may continue to change throughout a person's life, at this point it's a coherent perspective. And if this perspective is "folky" enough (untrained in traditional technique, coming from a distinct way of life or subgroup of society) then it might be considered folk art. If the art is also aesthetically interesting, then it might be considered good folk art.

marie Date: Tuesday, 20.10.2009, 20:17 | Message # 5

I love the question because it forces me to try to distinguish between the two. Maybe the difference is that children�s art is by children and folk art is child-like. I think folk art is made by adults with a child-like or naive vision of the world whether it�s their own small corner of it or the larger one. Folk art is filtered by adult experiences but has a simplicity and sense of wonder that we associate with children who are discovering everything for the first time.

For the past year I�ve been thinking about this a lot while creating my website to sell my folk art prints and paintings. I kept wondering how I got into folk art 20 years ago. At the time I was wild about modern art and architecture and was making a living in Southern California as an art conservator of museum paintings. But then age 40 hit and I felt an intense longing to return home to New England. (Hope you don�t mind this U.S. folk artist joining your forum!) Coming home, I honestly felt like a child. It was as if I were seeing this place for the first time. True, I�d grown up there, but I looking at everything � the quirky details of the old architecture, the landscape, the changing seasons, even my childhood memories � with new eyes.

I was passionate about painting what I�d discovered and wanted to tell stories of my childhood or an imagined idealized childhood. It had to be through art but what kind? I hadn�t painted before, just done drawing and sculpture. I did grow up in an 18th century house with folk art primitive paintings on the walls, but I never imagined painting in that style. Much to my surprise, when I picked up a paintbrush, folk art came out. And I believe it�s because I was seeing this place as if through a child�s eyes and imagination. It was all wondrous and new.

Forum » Art Discussion » Handmade Folk Art » how does children's art fit into folk art?
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