From their Aboriginal Dreamings to Zimbabwean linocuts, our makers’ works in this year’s Folk Art is Fine Art collection keep their heritage alive. Living in distant, even remote regions around the globe, many of these creators are little known beyond their own communities, others are highly collectible on the global market, and all share a zest for sharing their humanity through art. They celebrate age-old traditions adapted to the here and now, with stunning results.
Find contemporary clay vessels and sculpture out of Mexico’s red earth mountains where Oaxacan potters innovate on the area’s 2,000-year-old traditions. Elegant, perforated clay pots (think organically shaped colanders) in an array of shapes and sizes, and perfectly smooth wheat-colored vessels marked in rich brown splatter.
Deceptively simple in appearance, painstakingly complex in execution, Cuban artist Leandro Gomez Quintero’s cars and trucks are uncanny replicas of the island country’s crazy mixed up automotive works. Assembled and held together with found materials, they are powerful artistic metaphors for Cuban society.
Statuesque and grounded, our birds come from deep in Colombia’s rainforest where the Tikuna people live in stilted open-air houses along rivers and tributaries. Tribe members don bird masks and body gear, as shown in these sculpted wooden Toucans, for their Pelazón ceremony introducing Tikuna girls’ entrance into adult society.
In organic Khwe collecting baskets from the finest weavers in Northern Namibia, palm strands become smooth fibers infused with natural dyes extracted from the roots, leaves and bark of local plants, fashioned after basketry with a long history of use in the field.
Darian Fernández de la Fuente deploys the same technique Cuban cigar makers used for 19th century labels to hand paint his woodblocks in a vivid Art Deco palette. In this latest surfside series, portly women lounge in swimsuits, boys dive off the roadside into a swirl of water, and a surfer hits the waves with an ironing board.
Haiti’s famed metal smithing town of Croix des Bouquets bangs and clangs as steel oil drums – long a national resource in this constant disaster zone – are chiseled into fine art. Josnel Bruno is part of the soundtrack, striking contemporary forms that deliver a lyrical mix of repurposed heavy industrial metal and natural composition. His richly hued Lotus bowls, some incised, others formed around wheel components, are striking designs..
Gulnora Odilova’s sumptuous silks, woven, petit-pointed and smooth, have their origins in 17th century Shakhrisabz-style designs. Learning from her own mother, Odilova sources the silk locally and teaches other women the art. Named by Uzbekistan’s president as the best artisan in the country, Odilova is especially proud to revive this ancient textile.
Khatija Possum Nampijimpa is a standout in a proud and prominent family of leading Aboriginal artists descended from Clifford Possum, the founder of the Modernist Movement in Australia’s Central Desert. Her Dreaming, acrylic on canvas, is an aerial view detailing Aboriginal life. Dreamings are spectacular art, and often introduced into court to specify and legalize indigenous claims to their ancestral lands.
Among Africa’s preeminent stone sculptors, Zimbabwean Joseph Muzondo brings us this captivating series of linocuts on handmade paper. Fusing his sculptural hand with color on pliable fiber, he gives intriguing depth to a very familiar subject, the thumbprint. The artist’s complex impression transforms into a modernist mask.
Welcome to Folk Art is Fine 2023, where heritage is alive.
Featured Artists: Josnel Bruno, Dairan Fernández De La Fuente, Maricela Gomez Lopez & Manuel David Reyes Ramirez, Joseph Muzondo, Jabulile Nala, Omba Arts, Gulnora Odilova, Khatija Possum Nampijimpa, Antonila Ramos Bautista, Davron Toshev, and Colectivo 1050.
Amy Kaslow Gallery is located at 7920 Norfolk Avenue, Bethesda, MD.