Life in 5 folk art themes: Check out The Original Makers Festival at the Birmingham Museum of Art on June 16

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Pine Burr or Petal Quilt, about 1960 –1970, made in Tuscaloosa, cotton, wool, polyester, nylon, silk and corduroy (via artsbma.org)

Something about folk art always grabs me. It may be rustic, the product of a self-taught artist. It may be utilitarian and intricate, like an heirloom quilt. But it always captures something intangible and raw about the everyday human experience. No surprise, I can’t wait for The Original Makers Festival on June 16, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at the Birmingham Museum of Art.

Come to The Original Makers Festival on June 16, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., a FREE event at the Birmingham Museum of Art. Featuring …

Through stunning quilts, drawings, paintings, functional objects and sculptures of wood and metal, you can explore five common themes of folk art at The Original Makers Festival. Let’s take a look, shall we?

Theme 1: daily life and work
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Story of My Life (one of six panels), 1987, painted wood (via artsbma.org)

See how concretely the artist captured his childhood experience in vibrant primary colors in this work? Instantly, I know where he grew up and went to school, the sports he played—and somewhere in the sum of the parts, I see love and joy.

The Original Makers Festival features more than 175 outstanding works from the permanent collection of the Birmingham Museum of Art, home to one of the most comprehensive collections of folk art in the Southeast.

Theme 2: nature
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Bird House (“Church for Birds, Birds Worship God Too”), about 1980–1987, acrylic on wood (via artsbma.org)

Hmmm. As someone who sees God in nature, I like to think this bird house makes a statement about treating nature and all its creatures with respect and awe. What do you see?

“As a new generation of Southern makers explores the joy of creating, The Original Makers Festival celebrates the artists who have lived in our midst, inspired by their life experiences, their faith, their communities and the landscape around them.”—Birmingham Museum of Art

Theme 3: music
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Untitled (Musicians with Fiddle and Banjo), about 1992–1993, ink and oil pastel or crayon on paper (via artsbma.org)

Beyond music as a folk art theme, you can experience the transformative power of music live at the festival on June 16, featuring musical guest The Cedric Burnside Project.

Don’t miss The Original Makers Festival! Cedric Burnside is regarded as one of the best drummers in the world and is known as a traditional blues guitarist, too. The band “keeps Mississippi Hill Country Blues alive by honoring the past while blazing a path towards the future.”

Theme 4: faith and religion
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Baptism of Christ, 1983–1987, painted wood (via artsbma.org)

Among the faith-inspired artworks on display at The Original Makers Festival, you’ll see quite a few by Reverend Benjamin Franklin Perkins (1904-1993), also known as Brother Ben or B.F. Perkins. Born in Alabama, he traveled the world before returning home in 1969 to found his Church of God on 5 acres in Bankston.

“The exhibit will evoke the aesthetic of Perkins’ home and property, which he covered with paintings and signs inviting passersby to visit his church.”—Birmingham Museum of Art

I have a hunch the good Brother Ben would love watching the crowd take in his message anew at The Original Makers Festival.

Theme 5: patriotism
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Album Quilt, 1858, appliquéd solid cottons on muslin backing (via artsbma.org)

I could marvel at each appliquéd square of this 1858 quilt, but the quilter’s love of country is front and center.

“The exhibition will also explore the deep-rooted Alabama tradition of quilt making with examples of quilts that date from the mid-1800s to the late 1900s, and include traditional patterns, crazy quilts, story quilts and a quilt produced by the Freedom Quilting Bee.”—Birmingham Museum of Art

If you love hand-sewn quilts, you will love The Original Makers Festival. Also mark your calendar for July 17 from noon to 12:30 p.m. for a free ArtBreaks guided tour focusing on the quilts of The Original Makers exhibit. (What a fun way to spend your lunch break!)

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The Original Makers exhibit at Birmingham Museum of Art (via artsbma.org)
Did you enjoy this mini virtual tour?

Then make plans to come to The Original Makers Festival at the Birmingham Museum of Art on June 16 from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Following the festival, “The Original Makers” exhibition runs through December 30, 2018.

Featured artists include Leroy Almon, Nora Ezell, Sibyl Gibson, Ralph Griffin, Bessie Harvey, Shields Langdon Jones, Charlie Lucas, Rev. B. F. Perkins, Joanna Pettway, Herbert Singleton, Jimmy Lee Sudduth, Mose Tolliver, Fred Webster, Yvonne Wells, Chuckie Williams and many others.

Special thanks to sponsors of The Original Makers Festival on June 16, and to all supporters of the Birmingham Museum of Art!

They help keep general admission free and fund fantastic curated exhibits that enrich the lives of all citizens of Birmingham.

Artworks featured in The Original Makers Festival and exhibit come from the Birmingham Museum of Art’s Cargo Collection. The collection comprises a major gift from Caroline Cargo, together with gifts from her late parents Dr. and Mrs. Robert and Helen Cargo.

“The Original Makers: Folk Art from the Cargo Collection,” which runs from June 16 to December 30, 2018, at the Birmingham Museum of Art, is made possible by grants from the Henry Luce Foundation, Alabama State Council on the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Alabama Power Foundation.

For more arts and cultural events, check out the Birmingham Museum of Art’s hottest summer series, Art on the Rocks

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