Traditional arts are artistic activities such as music, dance, and crafts that are passed down from one generation to the next within communities and are regarded by the community as part of their living cultural heritage. These traditional art forms grow out of communities or groups that have something in common: a language, geographic area, religion, occupation, or way of life. The sense of what is beautiful and well done, the aesthetics, is defined by the community from which it emerged.
Traditional artists, crafts people, dancers and musicians who are tradition bearers share with family and community the mastery of the traditional ways of doing things. With each change of hands what is important from the past is cherished and new wisdom and beauty are added. When a quilter chooses the colors for a traditional quilt pattern, a blacksmith adds a unique leaf design on a door latch, or a fiddler adds certain ornamental notes to the playing of a tune, new creativity is expressed within a lineage of the tradition.
In New Hampshire we have a great appreciation for history and traditional arts as an expression of what makes each of our communities and heritage unique. We celebrate the wisdom of the past and find new ways to make useful and relevant our cultural products.
Through Apprenticeship grants, grants for community-based activities, a Traditional Artist Listing and ongoing fieldwork, the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts works to identify, document, preserve, and promote traditional arts and artists in New Hampshire so they continue to be a visible and vital aspect of the state’s living cultural heritage.
For more information and to stay connected with traditional arts and folklife in New Hampshire visit:
Arts Council program webpage: http://www.nh.gov/nharts/programservices/traditionalarts.html
NH Folklife website: http://www.nh.gov/folklife/index.htm
Photos (top to bottom):
- National Heritage Fellow Dudley Laufman and his wife Jacqueline Laufman leading youth Morris Dancers at the annual Canterbury Fair.
- Hand carved and painted Merganser decoy by Master Artist Fred Dolan.
- Turkish Ebru painter Hümeyra Ozcan leading a community workshop (photo courtesy Becky Field).
- Sweetgrass and black ash fancy basket by Abenaki artist, Denise Pouliot.