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  • Writer's pictureJuliana Loomer

Why Folk Art Still Matters.

Back in the days before our modern communication technology, when there were challenges in remaining connected with family and country, folk arts were the way to hold people together in a shared identity and purpose. By creating art together, people would build connections and work towards common goals. By giving and receiving heirlooms from your family and culture, we pass on stories that keep us connected to people and places who are gone.

As the mind navigates through the visual complexity of folk art, deciphering its narratives, motifs, and craftsmanship, the viewer imbues the designs with personal meaning and interpretation. Through this dynamic interaction, the human psyche finds connection, inspiration, and a deeper understanding of both the art form and the cultural tapestry from which it emerges.

Pundits of modernity will have you think that folk arts are quaint and naive expressions of culture that shouldn't be pursued for fear of looking simple and uneducated. To the pundits, people who like folk arts are seemingly unrefined, and those who surround themselves with styles like minimalism are more refined because they can treasure an object without history and without cultural connection.

Yet in human nature, we see the opposite is true. The places that have the most tourists and hold the warmest memories in visitors' hearts are places that stayed authentic to their cultural expressions. Places like Venice, Italy have a distinct artistic and cultural expression and are rewarded with millions of guests each year.

Since moving to Scandinavia, I have witnessed in real-time the shift from austere minimalism to people craving the artistic treasures of the past. When I first moved here and was decorating our home, I was able to find so many folk art treasures; hand carved cabinets, hand painted boxes with centuries of history, all for cheap. We have one dragon cabinet that is 6 feet high, that we bought for $50! We have a 300 year old rosemaling trunk we bought for $90. Now if you look on the antique sites, they go for 5x and more. Sad for me and my wallet, good for the culture that people that are rediscovering their traditional arts.

This is no anti-tech rant either. I am the first in line to see how we can use technology to develop and express ourselves, especially art. But in observing humans, I see that places that are adorned with character and cultural arts are always the most cherished. Minimalism and post-modernism is a way to address design, but it is not a way to feel the comfort of where your heritage and history come from.

Folk Art Design by J.Loomer Arts

In this day and age, why should we care? With political forces that endeavour to strip our cultural identities and turn our gaze to the State as the progenitor of value, the heart has been boxed up and put in the closet for storage. Folk arts reconnect us to all things good about human connection; touch, feel, warmth, family, history and yes, cultural identity. And this post-modernism work of stripping the soul from life applies to everything we inter-act with on a daily basis, from heirloom fruits and vegetables, to historical accuracy, to healing techniques, to music and dress, to ideas on community and leadership, right down to what is a man or woman, etc. etc. etc.

However you wish to express these values is up to you, I am just sharing my way, but please don't let "them" take away a single bit of your humanity and heritage from you, especially not in the arts whose entire point is to express the depth of the human soul.

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