Barre Toelken To begin with, I need to make a disclaimer: I will be referring to the culturally based arts of several different kinds of communities, including ethnic and national groups to which I do not belong. I do not pretend to be a spokesperson for any of them. Indeed, I urge you to find a way to listen to the voices of those communities and to experience their arts directly, not only through my well-intentioned but peripheral comments. Unfortunately, we often encounter the arts in academic or formally organized settings where the articulate voices of everyday living cultures are not readily heard. One result is that we tend easily toward seeing art as Art; another is that traditional folk art seldom shows up in discussions of what art is and what it does for us. My purpose here is to suggest that it is imperative that we pay closer attention to the arts that arise from what has been loosely called "cultural heritage"--the ongoing accumulation of expressive forms that represent the shared tastes and experiences of living cultures more than they demonstrate the unique strides of particular brilliant artists. This is a richer, far more complex topic
Journal of American Folklore – American Folklore Society
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