American Folk Art
A Regional Reference
by Kristin G. Congdon and Kara Kelley Hallmark
March 2012, 728pp, 8 1/2x11
2 volumes, ABC-CLIO

Hardcover: 978-0-313-34936-2
$237, £183, 207€, A325
eBook Available: 978-0-313-34937-9
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

Folk artists come from all walks of life and ethnic and racial backgrounds. Their works range from painting to sculpture to textiles, from boat building to doll making, from quilting to recycled art monuments, and from cowboy art to Native American art. In fact, the United States boasts a variety of folk environments that are not only gaining the attention of the art world, but also encouraging us to think about new ways of problem solving and creative ways of living.

Folk art is as varied as it is indicative of person and place, informed by innovation and grounded in cultural context. The variety and versatility of 300 American folk artists is captured in this collection of informative and thoroughly engaging essays.

American Folk Art: A Regional Reference offers a collection of fascinating essays on the life and work of 300 individual artists. Some of the men and women profiled in these two volumes are well known, while others are important practitioners who have yet to receive the notice they merit. Because many of the artists in both categories have a clear identity with their land and culture, the work is organized by geographical region and includes an essay on each region to help make connections visible. There is also an introductory essay on U.S. folk art as a whole.

Those writing about folk art to date tend to view each artist as either traditional or innovative. One of the major contributions of this work is that it demonstrates that folk artists more often exhibit both traits; they are grounded in their cultural context and creative in the way they make work their own. Such insights expand the study of folk art even as they readjust readers’ understanding of who folk artists are.


  • 300 essays on folk artists from all over the United States, organized alphabetically within geographical region
  • Introductory essays for each of the five regional sections
  • Numerous photographs of the works of many artists profiled
  • A glossary of over 100 terms, such as "quirts" and "whirlygigs"
  • A list of museums and galleries by region and a list of artists by media
  • An extensive bibliography including works from the fields of folklore, art history, and art criticism, as well as catalogs from major museum and gallery exhibitions
Kristin G. Congdon, PhD, is professor of philosophy and humanities at the University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL. Congdon has written and edited ten other books including Just Above the Water: Florida Folk Art, coauthored with Tina Bucuvalas.

Kara Kelley Hallmark, PhD, is lecturer at The University of Texas at Austin in the Art and Art History Department. In addition to writing several artist encyclopedias, Hallmark recently coedited the anthology Art Education for Social Justice. Her dissertation, Women's Studio Workshop: Inside an All-Woman Art Space is scheduled to be published in 2011.


"A narrowly focused but significant addition to both academic and public library reference collections."—School Library Journal, August 1, 2013

"Scholars and students often find it easier to locate biographies of so-called fine artists rather than folk artists, and this two-volume set should be a great aid not only for research into art, folklife, and material culture, but also to regional and American studies."—ARBA, January 1, 2013

"This is an excellent resource for art, American studies, folklore, and art therapy collections. Summing Up: Highly recommended."—Choice, October 1, 2012

"Recommended for academic libraries that support art programs, particularly those with a strong regional focus."—Booklist, July 1, 2012

"These volumes, celebrating human inventiveness and identifying artists whose work deserves regard, are as worthwhile for inspiring potential folk artists as for researchers."—Library Journal, July 1, 2012
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