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The Folk Art of Illinois

Rich Egger

An Illinois-based project to shine a light on folk artists is making its statewide premiere in Macomb.

The exhibit is called From Generation to Generation: Folk Art of Illinois. It consists of panels that explain various types of folk art and highlight those who are creating it. The project was done by the Chicago-based non-profit group Company of Folk.

It's important for the students to see that there's these traditions that are out there

Sue Scott, curator of the Western Illinois Museum, said Company of Folk founder Bucky Halker sought her input on the project.

“He approached me to advise on the creation of those panels, and as a result we got first dibs,” said Scott. “We’re the premiere exhibit of those ten panels.”

Half of the panels are at the Western Illinois Museum, 201 S Lafayette St in Macomb; the other half are in the Garden Lounge at Western Illinois University’s Malpass Library.  The panels will switch locations in mid-October.

Scott and Tammy Sayles, Marketing and Outreach Librarian for Malpass, hope the panels will bring folk art to a wider audience.

“I think it’s important for the students to see that there’s these traditions that are out there that people do carry on in their homes and they are an art form,” said Sayles.

The exhibit will remain in Macomb until November 21.

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The exhibit opened on September 11 with a presentation by Macomb-based artist Kelley Quinn, who creates colorful mandalas and labyrinths.

“They’re a tradition that’s carried forth through generations,” said Quinn. “Many of the artists who do this work follow the lead of either a family member or a trade person who does this. So those kinds of traditions have been passed on, and folk art is along those same lines.”

Quinn uses repurposed materials in her art. She said many other folk artists do the same. She said it pushes an artist’s level of creativity to take something that’s considered to be trash and turn it into a piece of art.

Upcoming presentations during the From Generation to Generation: Folk Art of Illinois exhibit include:

September 18, 7:00 pm, at Malpass Library: Tradicion Hispana Dance Troupe.

October 18, 7:00 pm, at the Western Illinois Museum: Exhibit Overview with Bucky Halker, Director and Founder of Company of Folk. His presentation will be followed by an open jam session.

November 14, 7:00 pm, at the Western Illinois Museum: The Art of Making Turkey Calls with Dee Kruzan.

Rich is TSPR's News Director.