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The Power Of Folk Art and Human Creativity





The Power Of Folk Art and Human Creativity

I have always liked folk art. Many years ago I bought a statue of a black African woman, who was gently bowing, with her hands cupped in front of her. It was a gentle piece, and I had it for a few years. It represented for me motherhood at its best. That was my reaction to that wonderful piece of African folk art. Folk art is easily accessible to anyone, all one needs is to be human with an understanding of the human situation.


Religious folk art can also be very powerful since it often deals with some deep emotional issues, which most humans deal with on a regular basis. Gentleness, compassion, and love, while truly present in the world, can be hidden under an avalanche of suffering, cruelty, and deep feelings of isolation. All art has the power to heal if one’s spirit is open to its influence. Being Catholic, I looked upon this work of art as a ‘Black Madonna’ archetype. Earthiness, compassion, love, and a desire to heal, and lift up, is what that stature represented to me. I am sorry that I could not find a picture of the statue online.

Some forms of art will activate a younger aspect of one’s humanity. The childlike innocence that most humans experience, albeit if only for a short time, never really goes away. It can be dormant, but art, folk art, can bring that to the surface very easily.

I was talking to Fr. Francis Michael a few weeks ago and he acquainted me with the art of a very good friend of his, who is named Jerry. I found that the items he showed me, brought out a childlike delight in Jerry’s creations.

He will pick up items in the forest and then make small works of art out of them. Turtle shells, vertebrae from long-dead animals, and put designs on them, and then painted. I could see that it took time to create, and showed me a man of great patience, and a childlike eye for the simple beauty, and joy, that can be found in nature. He just added a little more to it.

Jerry very graciously presented me with some of his artwork, through the kindness of Fr. Francis Michael. The picture above shows four of them. The turtle shells I am sure took some time to do, so a labor of love. The vertebrae animal I believe (for me) is an animal long extinct. I am sure Jerry may be surprised at what I see, but beauty, and meaning, are in the eye of the beholder.-Br.MD


Edited by markdohle


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