Folk Art Self-Study

Folk art comes from direct experience with the landscape. Specific adaptations to local environments give rise to unique forms of creative expression, born out of necessity. The oldest known form of magic, pictographs and patterns have been used for millennia to tell our stories and appeal to natural forces for help in navigating worldly challenges. Because we are living through a time of great transition, I’m wondering how we can we use the collective power of our traditional folk art forms as seeds for reclamation and healing. In order to explore this potential, we would need to reinvigorate forgotten skills that were once passed from generation to generation. But I realize that many people don’t feel they have a connection to any folk art traditions.

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The Doctrine of Signatures

As an extension of my last post, about learning sign-language and applying symbolic languages for the greater good, I’d like to talk about the role of healing and protection in this practice. Artists are trained to see, not just to create. Drawing, painting and sculpting are ways of seeing – seeing with the heart and seeing with the hands. The doctrine of signatures was a framing concept in medicine that hails from the time of Galen, and states that we should read the botanical world visually, and that each plant in our herbal medicine chest should be used to treat the body part or ailment it resembled in appearance. Paraclesus (credited with the illustration above) is quoted  “Nature marks each growth … according to its curative benefit”, in short – like treats like. 

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House Warding Tiles

Borrowing from the mystery traditions and folk medicine, this new collection of symbolic stencil cuts is for a series of stoneware wall tiles and corked jars that I’ll have for the Powderhorn Art Fair. Related esoteric imagery will be hand drawn onto enameled copper talismans beset with good intentions. Each wall tile and talisman is intended to act as a reminder to open the heart and mind to possibilities to flow around obstacles or attract abundance into our lives. House wardings specifically are to protect the energy of a home, keeping static out and good vibes in. We take subliminal cues from our environments all the time, here’s an attempt at deliberately seeding those spaces with intentional symbolism.

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