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Exploring Folk Art

Michael Owen Jones

Publication Year: 1993

Jones explores the human impulse to create, the necessity for having aesthetically satisfying experiences, and the craving for tradition. He also considers topics such as making chairs, remodeling houses, using and preserving soda-fountain slang, preparing and eating food, and sculpting lifelike figures out of cement.

Published by: Utah State University Press


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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-viii

In the forest of studies on American material culture and folklife lie a few giant redwoods that consistently provide inspiration for generations of students. Books that offer an appreciation of the "masters" who have planted these redwoods and have had much to do with shaping the scholarly landscape ...

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pp. 1-10

Several years before I began exploring folk art, first as a graduate student in folklore at Indiana University and later as a professor of history and folklore at UCLA, I was an undergraduate student ( 1960-64) at the University of Kansas in Lawrence. During the spring semester of my freshman year I heard about a class ...

Part One: Making Things

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1. Violations of Standards of Excellence and Preference in Utilitarian Art

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pp. 13-40

In August of 1965, I headed for southeastern Kentucky in search of a chairmaker named Chester Cornett. Warren Roberts, from whom I had had a folk art course my first year of graduate study at Indiana University, had seen a brief article about him in the Louisville Courier-Journal. Aware that one of my undergraduate degrees was in art history, ...

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2. A Strange Rocking Chair … The Need to Express, the Urge to Create

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pp. 41-56

The article below was printed in Folklore & Mythology (1982b), a newsletter published by Patrick K. Ford when he was Director of the UCLA Center for the Study of Comparative Folklore and Mythology. Appearing three times a year, issues carried major articles as well as notes and news items. Although I had not written about Kentucky ...

Part Two: Sensory Experiences

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3. L.A. Re-dos and Add-ons: Private Space vs. Public Policy

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pp. 59-80

In the mid-1970s after the publication of my book on chairmakers in southeastern Kentucky, I returned to the study of folk medicine (begun in 1968 with field research in northeastern Canada). And I began writing about fieldwork methods, pedagogical techniques, and architectural design. My interest was largely action-oriented and applied. ...

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4. Modern Arts and Arcane Concepts: Expanding Folk Art Study

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pp. 81-96

I was invited to give a paper in March, 1980, at "A Midwestern Conference on Folk Arts and Museums," which was sponsored by the University Gallery of the University of Minnesota. For several years I had been documenting everyday examples in contemporary American life that illustrated Franz Boas's statement (1955:9): ...

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5. The Proof Is in the Pudding: The Role of Sensation in Food Choice as Revealed by Sensory Deprivation

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pp. 97-106

"Some habits never change," remarked a student in a paper for one of my classes on food ways in America: "a hot dog on a stick and lemonade at the beach, hot chocolate at the ice skating rink, and chocolate-covered raisins at the movies." While free to choose from among many foods and methods of preparation and situations ...

Part Three: Art at Work

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6. Creating and Using Argot at the Jayhawk Cafe: Communication, Ambience, and Identity

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pp. 109-118

"Cherry pie, that was c-pie. Of course, if there was ice cream on it, it would be I-a," said Paul Sinclair. "And if it had two dips on it, which a lot of boys wanted, it was mode-mode. If you wanted two dips on there, it would be c-pie mode-mode." ...

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7. A Feeling for Form, as Illustrated by People at Work

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pp. 119-132

Long before I completed my dissertation on one kind of work, chairmaking in southeastern Kentucky, I conducted field research in the Maritimes under contract with the Museum of Man in Canada on another occupation, that of faithhealing. Four years after I began the study (and two years after I completed my dissertation), ...

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8. Aesthetics at Work: Art and Ambience in an Organization

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pp. 133-158

A two-day conference on organizational symbolism was held at the University of Illinois in May of 1979. Eleven papers were given on humor in a machine shop, symbolic behavior in organizations, belief systems, meaning creation, and so forth. A few months later, a national conference on workers' culture was held. ...

Part Four: Methods and Concepts

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9. Aesthetic Attitude, Judgment, and Response: Definitions and Distinctions

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pp. 161-176

Over the years I have given papers and published on various matters regarding methods, concepts, and perspectives in the study of different aspects of folklore. In 1976, for example, I published "The Study of Folk Art Study: Reflections on Images" (1976d). In 1977 I gave a paper called "Ask the Chairmaker" ...

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10. The Material Culture of Corporate Life

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pp. 177-186

In March of 1983, the Center for the Study of Comparative Folklore and Mythology and the Behavioral and Organizational Science Group in the Graduate School of Management (GSM) at UCLA jointly sponsored an international conference on organizational folklore, which I directed with David M. Boje and Bruce S. Giuliano (the former a member of the faculty in GSM and the latter the president of Ponte ...

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11. Preaching What We Practice: Pedagogical Techniques Regarding the Analysis of Objects in Organizations

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pp. 187-196

"If one direction is inward to the isolated self, then another direction is outward to the communal other. More than entailing a concern for groups—ethnic, occupational, or regional—the communal other is organizational. It exists in different organizations of social structure," writes Simon J. Bronner (1986: 125). ...

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pp. 197-204

Some of my publications and papers grew out of my teaching experience at UCLA. During the year and a half that I worked on my dissertation after leaving Indiana University, for example, I presented in folk art classes many of the ideas I was developing. People Studying People: The Human Element in Fieldwork resulted from ...


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pp. 205-214


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pp. 215-219

E-ISBN-13: 9780874213805
Print-ISBN-13: 9780874211658

Publication Year: 1993