Monday, August 10, 2009

Welcome to the Unconventional Side of American Art!

Welcome to the American Folk Art blog, my first attempt to organize course materials and communications in a coherent online setting. This first post will serve as a brief introduction to me and the course for those of you who have registered to take it, or even for those who are thinking of taking it.

I have been teaching this course since "inheriting" it from Lou Jones in 1984. My own work with american Folk Art goes back further; I've been curating exhibitions and writing articles on the subject sine 1982, when i was a student at CGP and a summer intern at NYSHA. Most of my early work was with 19th-century folk portraiture (see "One Shoe Off" by John Brewster above), but I have done quite a bit with 20th-century folk art (my dissertation was on Ralph Fasanella; see "Festa" below) and am really known as a broad-based scholar.

My wide range of folk art interests influences how I teach this course. Basically, it is a survey of all kinds of American folk art from the 17th century to the present. Throughout the course, you will have the opportunity to follow your own interests in the final project, and you will get to know a wide variety of pieces in our collection through your weekly assignments. The objective is to create an enjoyable learning environment where you gain familiarity with the kinds of folk art you might encounter in almost any museum job. At the end of the semester it is my hope that you will understand and appreciate the contributions of ordinary people to American artistic culture.

Do feel free to post comments or questions here; that way we can all access any information that we share or disseminate. I will be posting my syllabus very soon. Have a great summer!


  1. Paul-- Congratulations on the new blog. I'm looking forward to seeing and learning more.

    All the best!

  2. Hey, thanks, Gary! How did you find it? I'll be posting alot this month in preparation for the start of the course in September. Feel free to chime in whenever you feel like it.

  3. I love it, I feel like I'm back in school! Looking forward to learning more...


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