Monday, March 20, 2017

Tramp Folk Art

Tramp Folk Art Exhibit

Tramp art, like most folk art, celebrates both the folk artist and the times within which he or she created these unusual items.  This distinctly American folk art style spanned approximately 60 years (1880-1940). According to most reports, it was finally recognized as its own genre of woodworking in 1959. It consists primarily of homespun and handmade functional items, such as sewing boxes, picture frames and cigar boxes.

Recognized for its textured, carved wood design, it repurposed items that might have otherwise been discarded. Picture frames, for example were the result of hours of carving a piece of scavenged wood or repurposing a pine cigar box so that it had an elaborate layered design. Techniques included cutting, notching and whittling the wood and then using nails and/or glue to create familiar shapes, like star, crosses, and hearts.

The hours it took to create a piece of tramp art suggest that those with long stretches of time on their hands were most likely the artists, including sailors. The theory that it was art created by tramps or hobos has been debunked.

Samples of this unusual folk art form are on display at the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe, New Mexico. No Idle Hands: The Myths & Meanings of Tramp Art exhibit runs from March 12, 2017 through September 16, 2018. More than 150 examples of this folk art will include some pieces from France, Germany, Scandinavia, Brazil, and Canada  although most of the pieces will be from the United States. The goal, according to the museum is to  demonstrate the far reaching this folk art form is.

The exhibit will also include works by contemporary makers, thus establishing tramp art as an ongoing folk art form rather than a vestige of the past.

For more details about the show, click here.

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