Tesoros del Pueblo: Latin American Folk Art
Tesoros del Pueblo, or Treasures of the People, showcases the variety, imagination, and artistry of Latin American Folk Art. Drawn largely from the Museum’s Latin American Art collection, many of the objects have not been displayed before.
The folk art tradition in Latin America exhibits a rich blending of Indigenous and European motifs and cultural traditions. In many ways, Latin American folk art originates in the encounter between Indigenous and European peoples in the Spanish Conquest. Over time, the artistic traditions of each culture were blended by artisans who adopted European forms while, often covertly, preserving Indigenous meaning beneath the surface. Thus, folk art originates as a powerful mechanism that facilitates individual, community, and survival. Folk art continues to play a number of important roles in Latin America by providing a livelihood, reinforcing cultural vitality, and providing a means of expression for the communities of artists who continue to create folk art.
Overall, Latin American folk art is a highly diverse genre, reflecting the degree to which individual artists infuse their personal aesthetics, senses of humor, and perspectives into each work. Regional variation is also a hallmark of this tradition and individual states often have folk art traditions that are a source of state (and national) pride.
Folk art expresses cultural identity and can be made out of a variety of media: the lack of distinction between utilitarian and decorative arts characterizes the Latin American folk art tradition. The creation of beautiful utilitarian objects makes Latin American folk art extremely accessible: this is warm, personable art. Some pieces of folk art are created simply for enjoyment. At the same time, the meaning of folk art objects can be highly nuanced with richly layered meanings that have changed through time. This exhibition provides an opportunity to experience folk art in a meaningful way and to appreciate the legacy of this rich cultural tradition.