Iowa Folk Artists is a well written and illustrated book, with interviews and photographs of 16 contemporary "folk artists" - or, as I would prefer to call them "workers in the ways of folky crafts". The text of the dust jacket begins with a question "What is folk art?", and answers this in terms of the author's definition. I do not hold to this, and therefore consider this book to be more accurately described not as book about Folk Art or Folk Artists, but rather a book about crafts people creating work done in older styles - some of which may approach artistic levels, while some may be charitably called tacky. There seems to be far too much self consciousness among these people and their work to classify it as folk art.
Having said that, the interviews are generally interesting glimpspes into the lives of these people. They are short vignettes, not going into much depth, but do provide light entertaining reading that will satisfy someone with a cursory interest in folk crafts; and especialy an interest in some of the practitioners in Iowa; but there in no meat here - only a snack.
I find the author approaching her subject with a bit too much intellectualism, and an attitude of excessive and unnecessary glorification of the crafts person. The black and white photos of their actual products leave much to be desired - as color is an important aspect in this work.
By Jacqueline Schmeal. Since the 1830s, Iowa has been a heart of folk art tied to the imported traditions of its immigrant settlers as well as to the native patterns of Midwest agriculture and rural life. Iowa Folk Artists is a celebration of the folk traditions that Iowa artists have carried on from those first days up to the present. Complied by a writer who grew up surrounded by the rich handiwork of Iowa folk.
As this review is written, this book is available from the Iowa State University Press. Their addresss is 2121 South State Avenue, Ames, Iowa 50014. The phone number for orders is 1-800-862-6697. Published 1998.
|Order Now from Amazon.com