Spreading the Story and Spirit of Art and Artists
Because works of visual art are usually one-of-a-kind, unique pieces, it sometimes seems hard to share them as broadly as, say, a piece of recorded music or a book or story. Folkvine's goal is to find ways to open up the experience of Florida art and artists to a wider audience through the innovative use of community gatherings and the web. The group hopes to change the sometimes isolating way we think about art and how we present the stories of artists' lives and their work.
In the first two years of Folkvine, we have documented the work and lives of seven different artists. Ruby Williams sells her increasingly valuable paintings and her own farm-grown vegetables from a produce stand located in a rural African American community. The Scott family passes down hand-made shoemaking with a twist: they custom-make circus clown shoes from their rural home workshop. Ginger LaVoie makes Hawaiian quilts and, though not ethnically Polynesian, serves as a vital link with the local Hawaiian community working to ensure the continuation of the tradition. Former circus clown Diamond Jim Parker, recently deceased, created miniature model circuses and an archive of clown history and sideshow paraphernalia. Inspired by the colors and forms of her native Puerto Rico and a variety of other cultures, Lilly Carrasquillo shapes vejigante dolls, masks, and portrait busts in papier mache. Kurt Zimmerman paints colorful visionary pictures of hybrid animals and UFOs from his studio/shop in Cocoa . And Taft Richardson, who also runs art camps for neighborhood children in Tampa , builds elaborately detailed, religiously inspired sculptures of animals, birds, insects, reptiles, and people out of the discarded bones of animals that he finds scattered along the roadways and elsewhere.
In its second year, Folkvine expanded to include, in addition to new artists, thematic "tour guides" to the artists' sites. So far, these include tours on the concepts of re-creative identity, place-making imagination, and social economy.
Each artist is visited by the Folkvine group and interviewed, often more than once. They introduce us to their work, their lives, and their communities. Later, we devise a web site that we hope not only depicts the work of each artist, but also looks, feels, and sounds like an analogy for each artist, their life story and the story of their work and community. Before the web page is posted to the public, we hold an event within the artist's community (see the Communities page for more information) in which we celebrate the artist's work and receive feedback on the new web site. After revisions, the page is posted—these are what you see in the Artists section of this site. By using interactivity and linking the sites to the artists' aesthetic sensibilities, we seek to present models for online scholarship, ethnographic internet design, and the pleasures of the web.