Abstract and Keywords
This chapter addresses the wide range of folk art and crafts related to the study of those who make, use, and find meaning in the handmade object in America. The definitions of folk, popular, visionary, outsider, and fine arts have long been challenged and reassessed by scholarly and public communities, communities that sometimes but not always overlap. Debates have raged over the boundaries between art and craft, the viability of the handmade traditional object in the digital, postmodern age, and the discernible distinctive aesthetic characteristics of this body of American expressive culture. This chapter presents a flexible, interdisciplinary perspective on defining folk art and craft in America. It also offers avenues for folk art and craft scholarship such as relationships of aging, human rights, migration, sexuality and gender, and health to the study of folk artists and their communities, and encourages building on the legacy of material culture scholarship from the collections and research of museums and governmental agencies in addition to higher education institutions.
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