Folklore & Folklife
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Center for Folklore and Ethnography
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Undergraduate Minor
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FOLK 250 601 Vernacular Art and Artists

M. Murray
Lecture: Wednesday 6:30-9:30


Art critics and scholars tend toward a definition of art as something removed and elevated from ordinary life by the skill, genius and individuality of its makers. These novel creations represent one kind of aesthetic but it is certainly not the only one. What are we to make of the aesthetic productions of everyday people and everyday life that are perhaps less conventional, novel or ingenious but no less art? Consider for a moment the mastery exhibited in an heirloom quilt, the decoration of a yard with carefully arranged plastic figurines, the hand-crafted dioramas used by a veteran to memorialize battles fought or the home altar built by a mother in honor of her children. In this course we examine the aesthetic characteristics, community inspirations and the social and political impulses of these and other everyday vernacular artists and their work in all media through the lenses of folklore studies, ethnography, art criticism, biography and literature. We will open up our definition of art to consider all of the aesthetic productions.

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