Folk and Traditional Arts are defined as those artistic traditions characteristic of specific ethnic, religious, linguistic, occupational, or regional groups. These arts are shaped and shared within families, neighborhoods, and communities. They are passed down from one generation to another and learned through ongoing participation in community-based activities, and through observation, practice or apprenticeships with elders and masters rather than through classes, books or other means of institutional instruction.
As folklorists have written,
“Berks, Carbon and Schuylkill Counties have an astonishing wealth of cultural and ethnic diversity…
The counties harbor cultural traditions long forgotten in their land of origin.”
(Michael and Carrie Kline, 2005).
There is so much here that needs to be preserved for future generations.
The Folk Art Alliance will be documenting the works of folk and traditional artists living and working in Berks, Carbon and Schuylkill Counties. The three-county region is especially rich in ethnic arts and cultures. These counties include an area rich in Pennsylvania German culture as well as ethnic cultures that arrived in the continued waves of immigration that came to the coal fields of Pennsylvania after the Civil War. Ethnic groups of immigrants included the Irish, Carpatho-Rusyn, Polish, Slovak, Ukrainian, Hungarian, Italian, Russian, Jewish, and Lithuanians. The newest immigrants include Latinos and others.
The information documented will be used in school districts and universities throughout the area to educate the youth about our strong history. The art that is learned through this program will be taught to the youth and adult alike to help carry on those traditions.
Community steering committee: They bring together sectors of the regional community that help the project identify artists, document folk arts, bring the arts to the public, provide marketing opportunities and support the project in other ways. The Community Steering Committee meets on a quarterly basis.
Folk Artist Group: This is an open group for regional folk artists where they can learn from each other, let their needs be known, share information on materials, public events, teaching opportunities, etc. This group is invited to apply to apprenticeships, apply to grants, vendor at the Folk Art Festival, and other technical and marketing opportunities. The Folk Artists gather twice a year.
Every year on the first Saturday in June is the Folk Art Festival at the Walk In Art Center from 1pm to 5pm. The festival is inside in the Main Gallery. Folk Artists fill the gallery with their work for sale, live demonstrations and music along with ethnic foods. Each year we invite artists to our festival to sell their wares or demonstrate their art.
If you are a Folk Artist please register today! Click on the Community Tab, Event Registration, Folk Art Festival. Registrations are free thanks to our wonderful sponsors. All profits from sales are 100% kept by the artist. The festival co-insides with the already popular First Saturday Open Houses at the Walk In Art Center - admission is free!
The Walk In Art Center is working with community partners to document, educate and celebrate our rich traditions. WIAC is working with Penn State, Schuylkill and others on a documentation program that will lead to educational media for the classroom and scholar. WIAC will host an annual folk festival that will serve as a gateway and showcase for the other folk festivals, arts centers, and organizations involved in the folk arts in Schuylkill County throughout the year. WIAC will work with schools and individuals to provide the opportunities for folk and traditional arts to be passed on to the next generations of artists. WIAC is gathering an ever-growing group of folk and traditional artists to contribute to and guide this process.
The Walk in Art Center Folk Art Project is working with the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. If you are interested in becoming part of the Folk Art Alliance, please contact us at: 570-732-3728.