In Venezuela, folk art is one of the most genuine expressions that communities have of their surrounding beauty. Art historian Ricardo Ruíz from the University of the Andes [es] refers to folk art as art that falls outside of academic conventions, and that is often considered “naif” or “rural” (.pdf format). Generally, folk art has been defined as rural art, and its examples, in many cases, were pre-Hispanic works. Folk art has often been thought as less important than other academic art because of its informal state. However, Ruíz considers that the phenomenon of folk art, especially in Venezuela, should be understood as expressions that mutate and move in distinct directions, which follows in the same direction in which the artists intended in regards to beauty, history, life, and death. And now, this art is appearing online, reaching an audience that was not previously possible for many folk artists.
Luis Acosta, one of these folk artists has created a blog as a way to promote other folk artists and published “A Guide to Artisans [es]” An example of one of the artists presented can be found in this video [es]. According to Acosta:
La mayoría de (estos artistas) no disponen de los recursos tecnológicos que provee internet para darse a conocer (…) Esta iniciativa es gratuita e independiente (y) está sustentada por el trabajo voluntario…
Another project in which Acosta, along with 10 other artists, have come together to present their works online for the public in exhibitions is Aravaney [es]. The collective is presented in this video:
On his own blog [es], Acosta shows his work and promotes the work of this fellow artists and artisans:
…me he dedicado al modelado en arcilla y a la pintura desde el año 1984 cuando vivia en caracas , mi ciudad natal, desde 1993 resido en valencia (Venezuela). La imaginería de las devociones religiosas populares de Venezuela , sus personajes típicos y figuras de nuestra historia, han sido los motivos de mi trabajo con la arcilla y la pintura durante estos años (…) en esta página quiero mostrar ese trabajo y también el de otros creadores y artistas populares de mi país y del mundo…
From Caracas, Elgar Ramírez also promotes folk artists and their work through blogs. In his blog, Artesanía en Tapara [es], he shows art made with seeds, wood, and gourds. Ramírez describes the purpose of the blog:
…es promover y difundir a artesanos que elaboran piezas únicas e irrepetibles, de excelente calidad, en tapara, semillas, madera… Y con la posibilidad de contactarlos directamente.
This photo album showcases the work of Yaritza Molina, who works with gourds in the community of Palo Negro in the Aragua state.
With these initiatives, folk art is now going down roads that had not explored previously. Pieces of art that showcase the aesthetic imagination of its people can now be seen by others around the world thanks to these technological advances, when previously it was only accessible by those living around the place where the art was made. This is one of the many ways that art and technology have worked together in the past several years. It is quite possible that these spaces will be beneficial for the spread of art and the vision of the surroundings that are little known, but that talk about life and the knowledge of a Venezuela that is not well-known outside of its borders.
This is art from the heart, and as such is (for me anyway) what art should be all about. Any work of art that sparks an emotional reaction in the observer or for that matter the artist is as “worthy” as any “academic” or “establishment” piece