There’s always been a dark side to folk-art. And when you think of America’s first folk artists, the early settlers facing an uncertain life in an unknown wilderness, I’d say that’s pretty understandable! They existed on the edge of civilization, in harsh conditions where life and death were daily considerations. They created dark, sometimes twisted images as a way to face their fears, a way to deal with a merciless environment. It’s a testament to their courage that they survived, and to their creativity that they produced art that endures and inspires us today.
But there’s something else about those early dark images from American folk-art. They have a sense of humor! There was always some funny twist to show they didn’t take their problems or themselves too seriously. I love that, and I try to express that in my work. I use details, sometimes surprising or obscure or sometimes just plain silly to that end. Like on this new Haunted House design for Halloween. There’s no question it’s scary! But the sly smirk on the black cat’s face, the strange little doll in the crook of the tree, the ghost at the door and all-seeing eye in the front window… they’re all meant to add some fun and an element of humor to the piece. It’s an approach to art rooted in tradition worth keeping alive today. Our forebears lived in a harsh world filled with adversity and fought through it with courage, creativity and humor. I’d say that’s a pretty good formula for right now!