In Brief: Folk Art, Heritage, Or Something Else?

Wool rug attributed to Elvira Curtis Hulett, Hancock MA (1805-1895): American Folk Art Museum
Yesterday, we posted news on our Facebook page that The American Folk Art Museum may close its doors–and a spirited discussion followed. Denise Dutton Benshoof raised a provocative point about how different audiences and different cultures perceive an object as “folk art,” “heritage,” or, as others suggested, something else entirely. The border-crossing between these terms seems to speak not only to the point-of-view of a single person, but also the way in which we live in a cultural moment when meanings, histories, and practices can be translated and applied in surprising ways — raising all kinds of questions, all kinds of implications, for place-based art.
I thought of what Rachel Reynolds Luster addressed in her excellent piece “Bringing The Yarn Bomb to the Country.” I’d offer to folks to consider this question further on our Facebook page, or to share their own thoughts for a future follow-up piece on the site. We’re lucky to have many readers who work in the field of the folk arts and folk life–thanks, we’ve learned a great deal from your comments.

Quilters who will be on hand at the 47th Annual Appalachian Arts & Crafts Fair. Also see Appalshop filmmaker Elizabeth Barret’s Quilting Women (video clip here). 
Knitta Please founder Magda Sayeg yarn-bombing a bus.