Helping Kids Express Themselves Through Folk Art

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The rich tradition of American folk art has traveled many roads over the years, from its beginnings in the seventeenth century to the wide variety of creative works that are being produced today in many formats and media by America’s self taught artists. Over the years, American folk art has advanced from those early primitive works to the honored status it enjoys today in prestigious museums and galleries throughout the country.

In 1990, fewer than 10 museums included contemporary folk art in their collections; today; more than 50 museums vie for the best folk and “outsider” art America offers. New York’s Museum of American Folk Art moved into a permanent new home in January 2002 amid much publicity, and Baltimore’s crown jewel is its American Visionary Art Museum. The annual Outsider Art Fair in New York has marked its tenth anniversary, and Atlanta’s Folk Fest routinely attracts 10,000 collectors, dealers, and artists every August. Clearly, this art has an audience. Along with this new visibility, folk art is being introduced into curriculum in colleges, schools and other learning environments, such as in library, museum and summer camp enrichment programs.

Miz Thang’s enthusiasm for this art form and its positive influences on children has motivated her to become a visiting artist for the Critter Folk Exhibit at the Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, GA., the Alabama Blues Projects in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and at schools in Pawleys Island, SC. and Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Folk art is not taught. Miz Thang gives students the tools they need so that they can express themselves. She doesn’t teach them how to be artists, but she encourages the artist that is already within them to emerge.

The bright colors and imaginative shapes of Miz Thang’s art hold special attraction to the creative and inquisitive minds of children and teens. They are enthusiastic participants in the classes, partially because unlike being in a museum where they are forbidden to touch anything; in these classes, kids not only touch art, they create it!

Folk art is not possible without imagination. Every child who experiences Miz Thang’s magic has not only been exposed to an American art tradition, but has been given an opportunity to use their own imagination to express individual creativity. Miz Thang leads classes where the participants make bird houses using wood cutouts and aluminum cans. Musical instruments are made out of cigar boxes or gourds, and ordinary materials are transformed into a work of art. Besides being creative, her students learn to recycle ordinary household discarded items into fun art.

The 2008 Alabama Blues Camp in Tuscaloosa provided Miz Thang with a wonderful opportunity to help kids and teens discover how art and music blend together.

Group Art Experiences for Children

Miz Thang conducts innovative group art experiences for children and teenagers. She is available to lead various group art projects. Her favorite classes are those that involve “recyclable art.”

Miz Thang is a certified special education teacher in Georgia and enjoys working with children and teens of all ages.

Miz Thang is available to lead group art classes and projects for children and teen-agers.

Email her to set up an art program for your group.