Texas Heritage, Winter 1985

Isabel Robinson is a Coushatta artist who fabricates baskets out of Long Leaf pine and raffia. Mrs.

Robinson lives just outside of Livingston, Texas,
Photo courtesy of Kathy Vargas
of her membership in the Turkey Clan,
while the owl effigy is borrowed from
the folktales of her youth.
As well, any characterization of Texas
folk arts must acknowledge the unique
experiences and beliefs of the many
social, religious, and ethnic groups
that have settled the state. Such experiences
distinguish these groups one
from the other, but at the same time
can be a source of great commonality
among groups. For example, a barrel

close to the Alabama-Coushatta reservation.

house blues piano player performs the
songs to which Black agricultural
workers danced and drank on a Saturday
night after a hard week in the
fields. The lyrics are often about beautiful
women and hard working men,
bad luck and trouble, and the large
sorrows and the small celebrations that
define any community. And yet, these
are the very songs that speak to the experience
of Black oppression under
Jim Crow segregationism.

... The folk arts are not
separate from everyday life,
but entirely central to it.
It is this very accessibility
and authenticity offolk culture
that Texas Folklife Resources
hopes to help maintain
through its programs. ..
Both of these artists represent the
richness and diversity of Texas culture,
but the recognition and appreciation
that they and others deserve are often
hard-won and late in coming. Texas
Folklife Resources will begin addressing
this very problem in its first major
endeavour-a comprehensive ninemonth
survey of living Texas traditional
artists who work primarily in
visual-material media. The survey will
identify artists statewide from which
representative ones will be chosen for
a touring exhibition of Texas folk art,
which will premier at Laguna Gloria
Art Museum in Austin, October, 1986,
the Sesquicentennial year. TFR staff
will identify and document a range of
artists, and will work with local historical
societies and arts councils,
community organizations, and church
groups in an effort to locate artists
whose work is currently known only
by local reputation. The touring exhibition
in 1986 will focus on the lives
of the artists, their works, and the distinctive
place of their art in the everyday
life of communities across the
state.
Other projects which TFR is currently
pursuing are of a more local nature. In
San Antonio TFR will work with the
San Antonio Museum Association toward
research and production of an exhibit
called "Art Among Us." This exhibit
gives precedence to Mexican
American folk art in the city of San
Antonio and its outlying regions.
There are in San Antonio a great
number of Hispanic folk artists who,
because of their isolation within their
ethnic community, have received relatively
little exposure to the public at
large. Yet, these artists, decorative
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Texas Historical Foundation. Texas Heritage, Winter 1985. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45443/. Accessed September 21, 2014.