Ranging from the islands of the Bering Sea to Alaska's interior forests, Alaska Native Art celebrates the rich art of Alaska's Native peoples, both setting their work in the context of historical traditions and demonstrating the vibrant role it continues to play in contemporary Alaskan culture. Alaska Native Art showcases a staggering array of types of art—from beadwork to ivory carving, basketry to skin sewing—from Aleutian Islander, Pacific Eskimo, Tlingit, Athabaskan, Yup'ik, and Inupiaq artists, as well as full-color photographs of artists at work. Lavishly produced, and featuring a fascinating study by author Susan W. Fair of the concept of tradition in the modern world, it is a tribute to the incredible vision of Alaska's Native artists.
This new book brings to life the material-culture heritage of southwest Virginia and northeast Tennessee. In Backcountry Makers, Betsy K. White expands on her previous study of the region’s rich decorative arts legacy, Great Road Style, to offer a closer look at the individual artisans responsible for the diverse works that constitute that legacy.
Beautifully illustrated with some 230 photographs, most of them in color, this volume includes biographical sketches of seventy-five makers—potters, weavers, spinners, quilters, embroiderers, cabinetmakers, metalsmiths, clocksmiths, gunsmiths, and artists—who worked in the region from the earliest eighteenth-century settlement days to the late twentieth century. The entry for each artisan is accompanied by one or more images of a signed or marked work, or, in a number of instances, an unmarked work with certain provenance.
These vignettes offer a fascinating glimpse of the people behind the various pieces, describing their background, family life, and where they learned their trade. Using census records and other documentary evidence, White has traced the earliest of these artisans from their origins in such places as Europe and Philadelphia down through the Great Valley of Virginia to their ultimate destinations in southwest Virginia and northeast Tennessee. Along with the photos displaying the products of their craftsmanship, the book also includes a number of evocative images of the artists and their homes and towns, thus giving the reader a fuller sense of the region where these gifted people lived and worked.
One of the few studies to addresses handmade objects in this locale—and one of the even fewer works to focus on the artisans themselves— Backcountry Makers will be of great value not only to scholars of material culture and the arts in Appalachia but also to those who collect regional antiques and crafts and want to know more about the individuals who made them.
Betsy K. White is the author of Great Road Style: The Decorative Arts Legacy of Southwest Virginia and Northeast Tennessee. Until her retirementin 2008, she was director of the William King Regional Arts Center (now William King Museum) in Abingdon, Virginia.
The story of the American Quilt Trail, featuring the colorful patterns of quilt squares painted large on barns throughout North America, is the story of one of the fastest-growing grassroots public arts movements in the United States and Canada. In Barn Quilts and the American Quilt Trail Movement Suzi Parron takes us to twenty-five states as well as Canada to visit the people and places that have put this movement on America’s tourist and folk art map.
Through dozens of interviews with barn quilt artists, committee members, and barn owners, Parron documents a journey that began in 2001 with the founder of the movement, Donna Sue Groves. Groves’s desire to honor her mother with a quilt square painted on their barn became a group effort that eventually grew into a county-wide project. Today, quilt squares form a long imaginary clothesline, appearing on more than three thousand barns scattered along one hundred and twenty driving trails.
With more than eighty full-color photographs, Parron documents here a movement that combines rural economic development with an American folk art phenomenon.
Over the course of 130 years, Italian American Catholics in New York City have developed a varied repertoire of devotional art and architecture to create community-based sacred spaces in their homes and neighborhoods. These spaces exist outside of but in relationship to the consecrated halls of local parishes and are sites of worship in conventionally secular locations. Such ethnic building traditions and urban ethnic landscapes have long been neglected by all but a few scholars. Joseph Sciorra’s Built with Faith offers a place-centric, ethnographic study of the religious material culture of New York City’s Italian American Catholics.
Sciorra spent thirty-five years researching these community art forms and interviewing Italian immigrant and U.S.-born Catholics. By documenting the folklife of this group, Sciorra reveals how Italian Americans in the city use expressive culture and religious practices to transform everyday urban space into unique, communal sites of ethnically infused religiosity. The folk aesthetics practiced by individuals within their communities are integral to understanding how art is conceptualized, implemented, and esteemed outside of museum and gallery walls. Yard shrines, sidewalk altars, Nativity presepi, Christmas house displays, a stone-studded grotto, and neighborhood processions—often dismissed as kitsch or prized as folk art—all provide examples of the vibrant and varied ways contemporary Italian Americans use material culture, architecture, and public ceremonial display to shape the city’s religious and cultural landscapes.
Written in an accessible style that will appeal to general readers and scholars alike, Sciorra’s unique study contributes to our understanding of how value and meaning are reproduced at the confluences of everyday life.
Joseph Sciorra is the director of Academic and Cultural Programs at the John D. Calandra Italian American Institute, Queens College. He is the editor of Italian Folk: Vernacular Culture in Italian-American Lives and co-editor of Embroidered Stories: Interpreting Women's Domestic Needlework from the Italian Diaspora.
This is the first book solely dedicated to the history, development, and present-day flowering of Chicana and Chicano visual arts. It offers readers an opportunity to understand and appreciate Chicana/o art from its beginnings in the 1960s, its relationship to the Chicana/o Movement and its leading artists, themes, current directions, and cultural impacts.
Although the word “Chicano” once held negative connotations, students—along with civil rights activists and artists—adopted it in the late 1960s in order to reimagine and redefine what it meant to be Mexican American in the United States. Chicanismo is the ideology and spirit behind the Chicano Movement and Chicanismo unites the artists whose work is revealed and celebrated in this book.
Jackson’s scope is wide. He includes paintings, prints, murals, altars, sculptures, and photographs—and, of course, the artists who created them. Beginning with key influences, he describes the importance of poster and mural art, focusing on the work of the Mexican artist José Guadalupe Posada and the significance of Mexican and Cuban talleres (print workshops). He examines the importance of art collectives in the United States, as well as Chicano talleres and community art centers, for the growth of the Chicano art movement. In conclusion, he considers how Chicano art has been presented to the general American public.
As Jackson shows, the visual arts have both reflected and created Chicano culture in the United States. For college students—and for all readers who want to learn more about this fascinating subject—his book is an ideal introduction to an art movement with a social conscience.
The Reverend Howard Finster was twenty feet tall, suspended in darkness. Or so he appeared in the documentary film that introduced a teenaged Greg Bottoms to the renowned outsider artist whose death would help inspire him, fourteen years later, to travel the country. Beginning in Georgia with a trip to Finster’s famous Paradise Gardens, his journey—of which The Colorful Apocalypse is a masterly chronicle—is an unparalleled look into the lives and visionary works of some of Finster’s contemporaries: the self-taught evangelical artists whose beliefs and oeuvres occupy the gray area between madness and Christian ecstasy.
With his prodigious gift for conversation and quietly observant storytelling, Bottoms draws us into the worlds of such figures as William Thomas Thompson, a handicapped ex-millionaire who painted a 300-foot version of the book of Revelation; Norbert Kox, an ex-member of the Outlaws biker gang who now lives as a recluse in rural Wisconsin and paints apocalyptic visual parables; and Myrtice West, who began painting to express the revelatory visions she had after her daughter was brutally murdered. These artists’ works are as wildly varied as their life stories, but without sensationalizing or patronizing them, Bottoms—one of today’s finest young writers—gets at the heart of what they have in common: the struggle to make sense, through art, of their difficult personal histories.
In doing so, he weaves a true narrative as powerful as the art of its subjects, a work that is at once an enthralling travelogue, a series of revealing biographical portraits, and a profound meditation on the chaos of despair and the ways in which creativity can help order our lives.
Craft is a diverse, democratic art form practiced by Americans of every gender, age, ethnicity, and class. Crafting America traces this expansive range of skilled making in a variety of forms, from ceramics and wood to performance costume and community-based practice. In exploring the intertwining of craft and American experience, this volume reveals how artists leverage their craft to realize the values of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Accompanying an exhibition of the same title organized by Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Crafting America features contributions from scholars that illuminate craft’s relationship to ritual and memory, personal independence, abstraction, and Native American histories. The richly illustrated catalog section—with more than a hundred color images accompanied by lively commentary—presents a vivid picture of American craft over the past eight decades, offering fresh insights on the relationships between objects.
Building upon recent advances in craft scholarship and encouraging more inclusive narratives, Crafting America presents a bold statement on the vital role of craft within the broader context of American art and identity.
This volume initiates a gender-based framework for analyzing the folk art of Latin America and the Caribbean. Defined here broadly as the "art of the people" and as having a primarily decorative, rather than utilitarian, purpose, folk art is not solely the province of women, but folk art by women in Latin America has received little sustained attention. Crafting Gender begins to redress this gap in scholarship. From a feminist perspective, the contributors examine not only twentieth-century and contemporary art by women, but also its production, distribution, and consumption. Exploring the roles of women as artists and consumers in specific cultural contexts, they look at a range of artistic forms across Latin America, including Panamanian molas (blouses), Andean weavings, Mexican ceramics, and Mayan hipiles (dresses).
Art historians, anthropologists, and sociologists from Latin America, the Caribbean, and the United States discuss artwork from Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, Suriname, and Puerto Rico, and many of their essays focus on indigenous artists. They highlight the complex webs of social relations from which folk art emerges. For instance, while several pieces describe the similar creative and technical processes of indigenous pottery-making communities of the Amazon and of mestiza potters in Mexico and Colombia, they also reveal the widely varying functions of the ceramics and meanings of the iconography. Integrating the social, historical, political, geographical, and economic factors that shape folk art in Latin America and the Caribbean, Crafting Gender sheds much-needed light on a rich body of art and the women who create it.
Contributors Eli Bartra Ronald J. Duncan Dolores Juliano Betty LaDuke Lourdes Rejón Patrón Sally Price María de Jesús Rodríguez-Shadow Mari Lyn Salvador Norma Valle Dorothea Scott Whitten
Michael Moon Duke University Press, 2012 Library of Congress NX512.D37M66 2012 | Dewey Decimal 700.92
Henry Darger (1892–1973) was a hospital janitor and an immensely productive artist and writer. In the first decades of adulthood, he wrote a 15,145-page fictional epic, In the Realms of the Unreal. He spent much of the rest of his long life illustrating it in astonishing drawings and watercolors. In Darger's unfolding saga, pastoral utopias are repeatedly savaged by extreme violence directed at children, particularly girls. Given his disturbing subject matter and the extreme solitude he maintained throughout his life, critics have characterized Darger as eccentric, deranged, and even dangerous, as an outsider artist compelled to create a fantasy universe. Contesting such pathologizing interpretations, Michael Moon looks to Darger's resources, to the narratives and materials that inspired him and often found their way into his writing, drawings, and paintings. Moon finds an artist who reveled in the burgeoning popular culture of the early twentieth century, in its newspaper comic strips, pulp fiction, illustrated children's books, and mass-produced religious art. Moon contends that Darger's work deserves and rewards comparison with that of contemporaries of his, such as the "pulp historians" H. P. Lovecraft and Robert Howard, the Oz chronicler L. Frank Baum, and the newspaper cartoonist Bud Fisher.
De Grazia: The Man and the Myths
James W. Johnson with Marilyn D. Johnson University of Arizona Press, 2014 Library of Congress N6537.D4J64 2014 | Dewey Decimal 709.2
Artist Ted De Grazia (1909–1982) lived life with passion and verve, embracing risk and romance, becoming a legend in Arizona, and gaining international acclaim. De Grazia: The Man and the Myths is a biography that reveals the eccentric, colorful man behind the myths.
Born in Arizona Territory to Italian immigrant parents, De Grazia had a humble childhood as a copper miner’s son, which later influenced his famous persona. De Grazia often held forth at his gallery in Tucson’s Catalina foothills dressed in a pseudo-prospector’s getup of scraggly beard, jeans, flannel shirt, boots, and beat-up cowboy hat. Outrageous stories of womanizing, scores of children, and drinking binges created an eclectic image that fueled stories of mythic proportions, along with global sales of his colorful paintings inspired by the Southwest and Mexico. He made millions through his paintings and the licensing of his art for greeting cards and trinkets. Critics called his work kitsch or commercial, yet thousands of admirers continue to love it.
Calling De Grazia a complicated man doesn’t begin to explain him. He once described himself as “not saint nor devil, but both.” In this first comprehensive biography of De Grazia, authors James W. Johnson with Marilyn D. Johnson tell the story of a life remarkably lived.
It is a story that has gone down in the annals of American art history: a New Yorker visiting upstate Hoosick Falls is entranced by four pictures hanging in the window of a drugstore. Investigating further, he learns they are the handiwork of a 78-year-old widow. Thus begins the rise to fame of Grandma Moses—farmwife, painter, and unlikely celebrity.
In this book Karal Ann Marling, distinguished observer of American visual culture, looks at Grandma Moses as a cultural phenomenon of the postwar period and explores the meaning of her subject matter—and her astonishing fame. What did the “Greatest Generation” see in her simple renderings of people, young and old, tapping maple trees for syrup, making apple butter, gliding across snowy fields on sleighs? Why did Bob Hope, Irving Berlin, and Harry Truman all love her—and the art czars of New York openly despise her? Through the flood of Moses merchandise—splashed across Christmas cards, dishware, yard goods, and gewgaws of every kind—Marling traces the resonances that these “primitive” images struck in an America awkwardly adjusting to a new era of technology, suburbia, and Cold War tensions.
Between the cultural ephemera, folklore, song, and history embedded in Moses’ paintings and the potent advertising shorthand for Americana that her images rapidly became, this book reveals the widespread longing for the memories, comforts, and small victories of a mythic, intimate American past tapped by the phenomenon—in art and commerce alike—of Grandma Moses.
From Henry Darger's elaborate paintings of young girls caught in a vicious war to the sacred art of the Reverend Howard Finster, the work of outsider artists has achieved unique status in the art world. Celebrated for their lack of traditional training and their position on the fringes of society, outsider artists nonetheless participate in a traditional network of value, status, and money. After spending years immersed in the world of self-taught artists, Gary Alan Fine presents Everyday Genius, one of the most insightful and comprehensive examinations of this network and how it confers artistic value.
Fine considers the differences among folk art, outsider art, and self-taught art, explaining the economics of this distinctive art market and exploring the dimensions of its artistic production and distribution. Interviewing dealers, collectors, curators, and critics and venturing into the backwoods and inner-city homes of numerous self-taught artists, Fine describes how authenticity is central to the system in which artists—often poor, elderly, members of a minority group, or mentally ill—are seen as having an unfettered form of expression highly valued in the art world. Respected dealers, he shows, have a hand in burnishing biographies of the artists, and both dealers and collectors trade in identities as much as objects.
Revealing the inner workings of an elaborate and prestigious world in which money, personalities, and values affect one another, Fine speaks eloquently to both experts and general readers, and provides rare access to a world of creative invention-both by self-taught artists and by those who profit from their work.
“Indispensable for an understanding of this world and its workings. . . . Fine’s book is not an attack on the Outsider Art phenomenon. But it is masterful in its anatomization of some of its contradictions, conflicts, pressures, and absurdities.”—Eric Gibson, WashingtonTimes
Exploring Folk Art
Michael Owen Jones Utah State University Press, 1993 Library of Congress NK805.J665 1993 | Dewey Decimal 306.47
Jones explores the human impulse to create, the necessity for having aesthetically satisfying experiences, and the craving for tradition. He also considers topics such as making chairs, remodeling houses, using and preserving soda-fountain slang, preparing and eating food, and sculpting lifelike figures out of cement.
Suzi Parron, in cooperation with Donna Sue Groves, documented the massive public art project known as the barn quilt trail in her 2012 book Barn Quilts and the American Quilt Trail Movement. The first of these projects began in 2001, when Groves and community members created a series of twenty painted quilt squares in Adams County, Ohio. Since then, barn quilts have spread throughout forty-eight states and several Canadian provinces.
In Following the Barn Quilt Trail, Parron brings readers along as she, her new love, Glen, their dog Gracie, and their converted bus Ruby, leave the stationary life behind. Suzi and Glen follow the barn quilt trail through thirty states across thirteen thousand miles as Suzi collects the stories behind the brightly painted squares. With plentiful color photographs, this endearing hybrid of memoir and travelogue is for quilt lovers, Americana and folk art enthusiasts, or anyone up for a good story.
Arts as intimate as a piece of needlework or a home altar. Arts as visible as decorative iron, murals, and low riders. Through such arts, members of Tucson's Mexican American community contribute much of the cultural flavor that defines the city to its residents and to the outside world. Now Tucson folklorist Jim Griffith celebrates these public and private artistic expressions and invites us to meet the people who create them.
Josefina Lizárraga learned to make paper flowers as a girl in her native state of Nayarit, Mexico, and ensures that this delicate art is not lost.
Ornamental blacksmith William Flores runs the oldest blacksmithing business in town, a living link with an earlier Tucson.
Ramona Franco's family has maintained an elaborate altar to Our Lady of Guadalupe for three generations.
Signmaker Paul Lira, responsible for many of Tucson's most interesting signs, brings to his work a thoroughly mexicano sense of aesthetics and humor.
Muralists David Tineo and Luis Mena proclaim Mexican cultural identity in their work and carry on a tradition that has blossomed in the last twenty years.
Featuring a foreword by Tucson author Patricia Preciado Martin and a spectacular gallery of photographs, many by Pulitzer prize-winning photographer José Galvez, this remarkable book offers a close-up view of a community rich with tradition and diverse artistic expression. Hecho a Mano is a piñata bursting with unexpected treasures that will inspire and inform anyone with an interest in folk art or Mexican American culture.
"With the inborn wisdom that has guided them for so long through so many obstacles, Hopi men and women perpetuate their proven rituals, strongly encouraging those who attempt to neglect or disrespect their obligations to uphold them. One of these obligations is to respect the flora and fauna of our planet. The Hopi closeness to the Earth is represented in all the arts of all three mesas, whether in clay or natural fibers. What clay is to a potter's hands, natural fibers are to a basket weaver." —from the Introduction
Rising dramatically from the desert floor, Arizona's windswept mesas have been home to the Hopis for hundreds of years. A people known for protecting their privacy, these Native Americans also have a long and less known tradition of weaving baskets and plaques. Generations of Hopi weavers have passed down knowledge of techniques and materials from the plant world around them, from mother to daughter, granddaughter, or niece.
This book is filled with photographs and detailed descriptions of their beautiful baskets—the one art, above all others, that creates the strongest social bonds in Hopi life. In these pages, weavers open their lives to the outside world as a means of sharing an art form especially demanding of time and talent. The reader learns how plant materials are gathered in canyons and creek bottoms, close to home and far away. The long, painstaking process of preparation and dying is followed step by step. Then, using techniques of coiled, plaited, or wicker basketry, the weaving begins.
Underlying the stories of baskets and their weavers is a rare glimpse of what is called "the Hopi Way," a life philosophy that has strengthened and sustained the Hopi people through centuries of change. Many other glimpses of the Hopi world are also shared by author and photographer Helga Teiwes, who was warmly invited into the homes of her collaborators. Their permission and the permission of the Cultural Preservation Office of the Hopi Tribe gave her access to people and information seldom available to outsiders.
Teiwes was also granted access to some of the ceremonial observances where baskets are preeminent. Woven in brilliant reds, greens, and yellows as well as black and white, Hopi weavings, then, not only are an arresting art form but also are highly symbolic of what is most important in Hopi life. In the women's basket dance, for example, woven plaques commemorate and honor the Earth and the perpetuation of life. Other plaques play a role in the complicated web of Hopi social obligation and reciprocity.
Living in a landscape of almost surreal form and color, Hopi weavers are carrying on one of the oldest arts traditions in the world. Their stories in Hopi Basket Weaving will appeal to collectors, artists and craftspeople, and anyone with an interest in Native American studies, especially Native American arts. For the traveler or general reader, the book is an invitation to enter a little-known world and to learn more about an art form steeped in meaning and stunning in its beauty.
Much has been written about the popular kachina dolls carved by the Hopi Indians of northern Arizona, but little has been revealed about the artistry behind them. Now Helga Teiwes describes the development of this art form from early traditional styles to the action-style kachina dolls made popular in galleries throughout the world, and on to the kachina sculptures that have evolved in the last half of the 1980s.
Teiwes explains the role of the Katsina spirit in Hopi religion and that of the kachina doll—the carved representation of a Katsina—in the ritual and economic life of the Hopis. In tracing the history of the kachina doll in Hopi culture, she shows how these wooden figures have changed since carvers came to be influenced by their marketability among Anglos and how their carving has been characterized by increasingly refined techniques. Unique to this book are Teiwes's description of the most recent trends in kachina doll carving and her profiles of twenty-seven modern carvers, including such nationally known artists as Alvin James Makya and Cecil Calnimptewa. Enhancing the text are more than one hundred photographs, including twenty-five breathtaking color plates that bring to life the latest examples of this popular art form.
Throughout the history of European modernism, philosophers and artists have been fascinated by madness. Something different happened in Brazil, however, with the “art of the insane” that flourished within the modernist movements there. From the 1920s to the 1960s, the direction and creation of art by the mentally ill was actively encouraged by prominent figures in both medicine and art criticism, which led to a much wider appreciation among the curators of major institutions of modern art in Brazil, where pieces are included in important exhibitions and collections.
Kaira M. Cabañas shows that at the center of this advocacy stood such significant proponents as psychiatrists Osório César and Nise da Silveira, who championed treatments that included painting and drawing studios; and the art critic Mário Pedrosa, who penned Gestaltist theses on aesthetic response. Cabañas examines the lasting influence of this unique era of Brazilian modernism, and how the afterlife of this “outsider art” continues to raise important questions. How do we respect the experiences of the mad as their work is viewed through the lens of global art? Why is this art reappearing now that definitions of global contemporary art are being contested?
Learning from Madness offers an invigorating series of case studies that track the parallels between psychiatric patients’ work in Western Europe and its reception by influential artists there, to an analogous but altogether distinct situation in Brazil.
Jeff Griffin University of Iowa Press, 2013 Library of Congress PS3607.R548L67 2013 | Dewey Decimal 811.008
Ever since he was a child sitting in the back of his parents' car, Jeff Griffin has been taking explorative journeys into the desert. In 2007, as an art student, he started wandering the back roads of the Mojave Desert with the purpose of looking for a place to reflect in the harshly beautiful surroundings. What he found were widely scattered postmodern ruins—abandoned trailers and campers and improvised structures—whose vanished occupants had left behind, in their trash, an archaeological record of astonishing richness and poignancy.
Lost and is both a chronicle of Griffin’s obsessive journeying and a portal into a world of dispossessed people and enduring desires. Comprised entirely of unaltered reproductions of extraordinary found materials—drawings, charts, questionnaires, compulsively detailed letters, legal documents, jottings, journal entries, stunningly vivid and mysterious photographs—this is a work of sociological and literary daring that defies categorization. Part documentary history, part literary adventure, part mystical detective story, Griffin’s immersion in extremity has yielded wrenching annals of the modes and manners in which lost people inscribe their psychic, sexual, religious, and economic yearnings.
At the core of the work is a collection of poems, mostly handwritten and composed without pretense to literary sophistication, that give direct expression to the abiding impulse to tap language’s transformative potential. Assembled with deep regard for the dignity of its collective group of anonymous authors, Lost and is a book of profound conceptual originality—an engrossing, shocking, and tender work of art that strives to awaken voices from the wilderness of the inexpressible.
The name "maguey" refers to various forms of the agave and furcraea genus, also sometimes called the century plant. The fibers extracted from the leaves of these plants are spun into fine cordage and worked with a variety of tools and techniques to create textiles, from net bags and hammocks to equestrian gear.
In this fascinating book, Kathryn Rousso, an accomplished textile artist, takes a detailed look at the state of maguey culture, use, and trade in Guatemala. She has spent years traveling in Guatemala, highlighting maguey workers’ interactions in many locations and blending historical and current facts to describe their environments. Along the way, Rousso has learned the process of turning a raw leaf into beautiful and useful textile products and how globalization and modernization are transforming the maguey trade in Guatemala.
Featuring a section of full-color illustrations that follow the process from plant to weaving to product, Maguey Journey presents the story of this fiber over recent decades through the travels of an impassioned artist. Useful to cultural anthropologists, ethnobotanists, fiber artists, and interested travelers alike, this book offers a snapshot of how the industry stands now and seeks to honor those who keep the art alive in Guatemala.
As a young boy Frank Kovac Jr. fell deeply in love with stargazing, painting glow-in-the-dark constellations on his bedroom wall and inviting friends to an observatory he built in his Chicago backyard. As he reached adulthood, Kovac did not let go of his childhood dreams of reaching the stars. He began scheming to bring the universe home. While working at a paper mill as a young man, Kovac tirelessly built a 22-foot rotating globe planetarium in the woods. Despite failures and collapses, the amateur astronomer singlehandedly built a North Woods treasure, painting more than 5,000 glowing stars—dot by dot in glowing paints. Today, Kovac and his unique planetarium take visitors to the stars every day.
The Man Who Painted the Universe: The Story of a Planetarium in the Heart of the North Woods introduces readers to the mild-mannered astronomy enthusiast whose creativity, ingenuity, fervor, and endurance realized a dream of galactic proportions. The story of this stargazer from Wisconsin’s North Woods so inspired two newspapermen, authors Ron Legro and Avi Lank, that they sought to document the story of the Kovac Planetarium for a new generation of stargazers and dreamers.
"A powerful document of the inner lives and creative visions of men and women rendered invisible by America’s prison system.
More than two million people are currently behind bars in the United States. Incarceration not only separates the imprisoned from their families and communities; it also exposes them to shocking levels of deprivation and abuse and subjects them to the arbitrary cruelties of the criminal justice system. Yet, as Nicole Fleetwood reveals, America’s prisons are filled with art. Despite the isolation and degradation they experience, the incarcerated are driven to assert their humanity in the face of a system that dehumanizes them.
Based on interviews with currently and formerly incarcerated artists, prison visits, and the author’s own family experiences with the penal system, Marking Time shows how the imprisoned turn ordinary objects into elaborate works of art. Working with meager supplies and in the harshest conditions—including solitary confinement—these artists find ways to resist the brutality and depravity that prisons engender. The impact of their art, Fleetwood observes, can be felt far beyond prison walls. Their bold works, many of which are being published for the first time in this volume, have opened new possibilities in American art.
As the movement to transform the country’s criminal justice system grows, art provides the imprisoned with a political voice. Their works testify to the economic and racial injustices that underpin American punishment and offer a new vision of freedom for the twenty-first century."
Mary Nohl: A Lifetime in Art
Barbara Manger Wisconsin Historical Society Press, 2013 Library of Congress N6537.N648M36 2013 | Dewey Decimal 709.2
LOOK INSIDE THE LIFE — AND HOME — OF LEGENDARY 'OUTSIDER' ARTIST MARY NOHL
"Mary Nohl: A Lifetime in Art" by Barbara Manger and Janine Smith, tells the story of Milwaukee-born artist, Mary Nohl. A prolific and fanciful maker who worked in a variety of media, Nohl was both a mysterious figure and an iconic "outsider" artist. This new addition to the Badger Biographies series captures her life and will capture the imagination of readers, and artists, of all ages.
Nohl didn't just make art — she lived it. From the time she was young, Mary enjoyed making things, from the model airplane that won her a citywide prize to assignments in shop class, where she learned to work with tools.
Her interests in art blossomed during the years she spent training at the Art Institute of Chicago, leading to a lifetime of curiosity and ventures into new artistic media. From pottery to silver jewelry and oil painting to concrete sculpture, Mary explored new ways of making art. Many of her pieces were made from found objects that other people might think of as junk — like chicken bones, bedsprings and sand that she made into concrete.
Nohl, who made her home on the shores of Lake Michigan, decorated the interior of her cottage with bright colors and eye-catching figures in driftwood and glass. During her later years, her home became known as the "Witch's House" — a place of local legend known far beyond Fox Point. Though she died in 2001, Mary's legacy continues. Her art is held at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan, and her home is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The popular Badger Biographies series for young readers explores the lives of famous and not-so-famous figures in Wisconsin history. The Wisconsin Historical Society Press is proud to celebrate the release of this, the 21st book in the series.
In May 1965, vice president Hubert Humphrey declared that “the Viet Cong has committed the most unbelievable acts of terrorism the world has ever known.” And throughout the long conflict in Vietnam, Americans similarly demonized the enemy fighters as reds, gooks, and fanatical killers. Offering a radically different view of these supposedly savage soldiers, Mekong Diaries presents never-before-published drawings, poems, letters, and oral histories by ten of the most celebrated Viet Cong war artists.
These guerrilla artists—some military officers and some civilians—lived clandestinely with the fighters, moving camp alongside them, going on reconnaissance missions, and carrying their sketchbooks, ink, and watercolors into combat. Trained by professors from the Hanoi Institute of Fine Arts who journeyed down the perilous Ho Chi Minh Trail to ensure a pictorial history of the war, they recorded battles and events from Operation Junction City to Khe Sanh to the Tet Offensive. They also sketched as the spirit moved them, rendering breathtaking landscapes, hut and bunker interiors, activities at base camps, troops on the move, portraits for the families of fallen soldiers, and the unimaginable devastation that the conflict left in its wake.
Their collective record—which Sherry Buchanan skillfully compiles here—is an extraordinary historical and artistic document of people at war. As such, it serves as a powerful response to the self-centeredness of American accounts of Vietnam, filling a profound gap in our national memory by taking us into the misunderstood worlds of those whom we once counted among our worst enemies.
Since the last century, the relationship between vanguard and self-taught artists has been defined by contradiction. The established art world has been quick to make clear distinctions between trained and untrained artists, yet at the same time it has been fascinated by outliers whom it draws selectively and intermittently into its orbits. For a new exhibition launching at the National Gallery of Art, curator Lynne Cooke explores shifting conceptualizations of the American outlier across the twentieth century, drawing on the inherent sociality of the exhibition in her installation of these works. This companion catalog, Outliers and American Vanguard Art, offers a fantastic opportunity to consider works by schooled and self-taught creators in relation to each other and defined by historical circumstance.
The art works in Outliers and American Vanguard Art come from three distinct periods when the intersections between mainstream and outlier artists were most dynamic and productive, ushering in exhibitions of art based on various degrees of co-existence, inclusion, and assimilation. Works by such diverse artists as Charles Sheeler, Christina Ramberg, and Matt Mullican are set in conversation with a range of works by such self-taught artists as Horace Pippin, Janet Sobel, and Henry Darger. Cooke also examines a recent increase of radically expressive work that challenges what it means to be an outlier today. She reveals how these distinctions have been freighted with a particularly American point of view as she investigates our assumptions about creativity, artistic practice, and the role of the artist in contemporary culture.
Outliers and American Vanguard Art is the most comprehensive show ever to examine outliers in dialogue with their established peers. It is sure to inspire vigorous conversation about how artists and the work they make are represented.
The term outsider art has been used to describe work produced exterior to the mainstream of modern art by certain self-taught visionaries, spiritualists, eccentrics, recluses, psychiatric patients, criminals, and others beyond the perceived margins of society. Yet the idea of such a raw, untaught creativity remains a contentious and much-debated issue in the art world. Is this creative instinct a natural, innate phenomenon, requiring only the right circumstances—such as isolation or alienation—in order for it to be cultivated? Or is it an idealistic notion projected onto the art and artists by critics and buyers?
David Maclagan argues that behind the critical and commercial hype lies a cluster of assumptions about creative drives, the expression of inner worlds, originality, and artistic eccentricity. Although outsider art is often presented as a recent discovery, these ideas, Maclagan reveals, belong to a tradition that goes back to the Renaissance, when the modern image of the artist began to take shape. In Outsider Art, Maclagan challenges many of the current opinions about this increasingly popular field of art and explores what happens to outsider artists and their work when they are brought within the very world from which they have excluded themselves.
Frugal, thrifty, enduring, colorful, comforting, warm. These words capture both the spirit of Iowa quilters through the centuries and the fabrics they stitched together. In Patchwork, Jacqueline Schmeal celebrates the lives of Iowa quilters and the enduring beauty of historic Iowa quilts.
Drawing on written records by and interviews with contemporary quilters, many of whom were born in the early years of the twentieth century, Schmeal presents the life histories of these hard-working yet inspired artists. Sisters Elsie Ball and Mary Ball Jay of Fairfield—charging one and a quarter cents per yard of thread—kept meticulous records of each of the 135 quilts they stitched between 1935 and 1970. Ivan Johnson plowed his fields by day and quilted vivid designs by night. Cloth scraps were so precious to Barbara Chupp, an Amish quilter, that she became known for her mosaic piecing. Members of the Sunshine Circle, organized in 1912 in a Quaker church in Earlham, still quilt together today. Mennonite quilter Sara Miller became famous nationwide for her fabric store, Kalona Kountry Kreations. Their stories—of impoverished childhoods, hardscrabble work, and strong families—are enhanced by over seventy color photographs of an unbelievably rich collection of historic quilts ranging from the early 1800s to the 1950s.
Offering both a glimpse into the daily lives of twentieth-century quiltmakers and an amazing treasury of Iowa's historic quilts, Patchwork is a loving tribute to the creative spirit that links modern-day quilters to the patterns and traditions of their predecessors.
. . . we move to the town of Aconchi on the Río Sonora, where the mission church once contained a life-sized crucifix with a black corpus, known both as Nuestro Señor de Esquipulas . . . and El Cristo Negro de Aconchi . . .
So describes well-known and beloved folklorist James S. Griffith as he takes us back through the decades to a town in northern Sonora where a statue is saved—and in so doing, a community is saved as well.
In Saints, Statues, and Stories Griffith shares stories of nearly sixty years of traveling through Sonora. As we have come to expect through these journeys, “Big Jim”—as he is affectionately known by many—offers nothing less than the living traditions of Catholic communities. Themes of saints as agents of protection or community action are common throughout Sonora: a saint coming out of the church to protect the village, a statue having a say in where it resides and paying social calls to other communities, or a beloved image rescued from destruction and then revered on a private altar. A patron saint saves a village from outside attackers in one story—a story that has at least ten parallels in Sonora’s former mission communities. Details may vary, but the general narrative remains the same: when hostile nonbelievers attack the village, the patron saint of the church foils them.
Griffith uncovers the meanings behind the devotional uses of religious art from a variety of perspectives—from artist to audience, preservationist to community member. The religious artworks transcend art objects, Griffith believes, and function as ways of communicating between this world and the next. Setting the stage with a brief geography, Griffith introduces us to roadside shrines, artists, fiestas, saints, and miracles. Full-color images add to the pleasure of this delightful journey through the churches and towns of Sonora.
Richly illustrated with examples of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century art from northern New Mexico's village churches, Santos is an in-depth investigation into the artistic heritage of the New Mexican santero (saint maker). It is also an important study of northern New Mexican artisans and their craft.
Along with photographer Jack Parsons, Marie Romero Cash visited every church in the region and documented, identified, and measured each santos. Together they photographed more than 500 pieces, including 19 moradas (places of worship for Penitentes) and the Archdiocese of Santa Fe Collection housed at the Museum of International Folk Art.
Cash's extensive research into these formerly "anonymous" artisans fills a gap in the study of this unique form, making Santos indispensable for art historians and the general reader interested in the culture and art of the American Southwest.
The gnarled branches of a beautiful old plum tree reach toward the sky. A mushroom hunter searches for morels among rolling hills. A small boat is tossed among the tumultuous waves of an angry sea. Striding Lines, an homage to Wisconsin artist and quilter Rumi O'Brien, presents these striking images of her work and many more, accompanied by descriptions that share the stories of each piece in the artist's own words. Each quilt represents a moment, often autobiographical, crafted with whimsy, revealing an inspired talent.
Bobbie Malone reaches beyond the quilts to tell O'Brien's own story, from her initial foray into the quilting world to her developed dedication to the craft. Contributions from leaders in the art, textile and quilting community, including Melanie Herzog and Marin Hanson, contextualize O'Brien's work in the greater community of quiltmakers and artists. This book celebrates the life and ingenuity of a Japanese-born American immigrant whose oeuvre is equally Japanese and Wisconsinite—and entirely distinctive.
In 1979, Ed Stilley was leading a simple life as a farmer and singer of religious hymns in Hogscald Hollow, a tiny Ozark community south of Eureka Springs, Arkansas. Life was filled with hard work and making do for Ed, his wife Eliza, and their five children, who lived in many ways as if the second half of the twentieth century had never happened.
But one day Ed’s life was permanently altered. While plowing his field, he became convinced he was having a heart attack. Ed stopped his work and lay down on the ground. Staring at the sky, he saw himself as a large tortoise struggling to swim across a river. On his back were five small tortoises—his children—clinging to him for survival. And then, as he lay there in the freshly plowed dirt, Ed received a vision from God, telling him that he would be restored to health if he would agree to do one thing: make musical instruments and give them to children.
And so he did. Beginning with a few simple hand tools, Ed worked tirelessly for twenty-five years to create over two hundred instruments, each a crazy quilt of heavy, rough-sawn wood scraps joined with found objects. A rusty door hinge, a steak bone, a stack of dimes, springs, saw blades, pot lids, metal pipes, glass bottles, aerosol cans—Ed used anything he could to build a working guitar, fiddle, or dulcimer. On each instrument Ed inscribed “True Faith, True Light, Have Faith in God.”
True Faith, True Light: The Devotional Art of Ed Stilley documents Ed Stilley’s life and work, giving us a glimpse into a singular life of austere devotion.
Ledger art has traditionally been created by men to recount the lives of male warriors on the Plains. During the past forty years, this form has been adopted by Native female artists, who are turning previously untold stories of women’s lifestyles and achievements into ledger-style pictures. While there has been a resurgence of interest in ledger art, little has been written about these women ledger artists.
Women and Ledger Art calls attention to the extraordinary achievements of these strong women who have chosen to express themselves through ledger art. Author Richard Pearce foregrounds these contributions by focusing on four contemporary women ledger artists: Sharron Ahtone Harjo (Kiowa), Colleen Cutschall (Oglala Lakota), Linda Haukaas (Sicangu Lakota), and Dolores Purdy Corcoran (Caddo). Pearce spent six years in continual communication with the women, learning about their work and their lives. Women and Ledger Art examines the artists and explains how they expanded Plains Indian history.
With 46 stunning images of works in various mediums—from traditional forms on recovered ledger pages to simulated quillwork and sculpture, Women and Ledger Art reflects the new life these women have brought to an important transcultural form of expression.