Shaping Traditions: Folk Arts in a Changing South


Through generations of changing time and needs, our voices, words, and hands have combined utility with inspiration to create art from everyday life. In the music we sing, the stories we share, and the tools and furnishings we create, we define who we are as individuals and as a community.

Shaping Traditions: Folks Arts in a Changing South traces the unique and evolving character of Southern folk culture through antique and contemporary artifacts and the sounds of oral and musical traditions. “The changing role of folk arts, once central to the lives of ordinary southerners, offers fresh insights into the region’s social history,” says exhibition curator John Burrison.
Handcrafted pottery, woodwork, basketry, weaving, quilting, and metalwork are among the 500 artifacts used to explore the lives of master folk artists. Highlighted artists include the Meaders and Hewell family pottery makers, chair-maker Walter Shelnut, Cherokee basket-maker Lucille Lossiah, the Reeves family of basket makers, story quilter Harriet Powers, and blacksmith Philip Simmons.

Throughout the exhibition, videos present folk art processes and are complemented by touchable examples of highlighted works. Two enclosed rooms create listening environments for visitors to hear folk storytelling, singing, and instrumental music.

The Goizueta Folklife Gallery is made possible by a gift from Mr. and Mrs. Roberto C. Goizueta in memory of their son, Carlos Alberto Goizueta. Shaping Traditions: Folk Arts in a Changing South is sponsored in part by grants from the Ford Motor Company and the National Endowment for the Arts.