Many people think of art as paintings or sculptures, often created and sold as 'fine art' or 'high art' in galleries and exhibits throughout the world. But since the beginning of time, creative people have found outlets to express their creativity, and those are not always found on a canvas or a kiln. Folk artists express their own experiences and life journey through whatever medium appeals to them most, be it metal, glass, paper, cloth, or any other material that has meaning to them.
Folk art is usually not influenced by any particular movement in fine art circles. In fact, in most cases, it does not even include works that are created by professional artists and sold in galleries to art patrons and collectors. However, many American folk art painters in the 18th and 19th centuries made a living by selling their work. Some of the best known were itinerant painters of portraits, who created large bodies of work throughout their life.
Folk art is sometimes considered a 'self-taught' or even 'working class' type of art. Terms that are sometimes used alongside folk art are pop art, tribal art, native art, traditional art, or outsider art. All of these terms are slightly different in connotation, but they are often used interchangeably. The pure definition of what 'folk art' stands for has proven to be difficult to pin down.
The cultural identity conveyed by folk art allows artists to share their community aesthetics and values with each other and the world. Folk art encompasses a wide range of decorative and utilitarian media such as wood, cloth, paper, metal, clay, and a host of other materials. Artists can substitute any materials for traditional materials, with the resulting creations being contemporary expressions of the folk art forms that have traditionally been expressed. Diverse community groups―religious, ethnic, occupational, tribal, geographical, age-related, or gender-based groups―have their own folk art traditions that help them identify with each other and with society in general. Folk artists usually learn their skills and techniques by working as apprentices for established artists in informal community settings.
Often folk artists display and sell their work at crafts fairs, flea markets, or even on city sidewalks. But the Internet has given these artists access to an audience outside their own communities, and even outside their country. These sites have a mission to facilitate the relationship between artists and beholders, by introducing the artists and their creations to the world, and by offering their works for sale.
Dolls, jewelry, masks, Celtic art, glass, ceramics, black art, posters, sculpture, photography, gourds, voodoo, drawings, and many other categories can be browsed through to see what offerings are available. If you are looking for something specific, there are useful search tools that can help you find exactly what you're looking for. From clay figurines offered by a street vendor in Tijuana to exotic acrylic paintings created by a renowned painter, artwork holds a special place in everyone's life.