Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Zea Redeeming the "Naive" Rural Craftsman

I recently watched this excellent lecture from the 2011 Art & Clay Symposium at the Old Salem Museum and Gardens by Philip Zea, president of Historic Deerfield. Using furniture as his primary examples, he does an excellent job setting the context of southern backcountry decorative arts aesthetics. Often vernacular furnishings are consider clumsy, awkward, and poorly designed.

Discounting this oversimplification, Zea provides an alternative perspective that these rural craftsman were not "slaves to fashion" and felt the liberty to create what ever their clients actually wanted. With such a diverse cultural roots, the rural backcountry craftsman and consumer have left behind decorative works that display without veil their own backgrounds, skills, and aesthetic tastes.

If you've ever seen rural antique furniture and said, "Wow. What kind of naive dolt dreamt up this piece?", this video is for you.


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