Culture, Customs, Creativity and Conversation (Introduction)


12 Displays of Customs
Background:  I have been working (during my personal artist-in-residency period (Covid) at my home studio) on a series of etchings. The project combines my love of travel and culture with my love of printmaking. It is  based on a holiday folk song that I have modified and has grown to include 78 artworks (12+11+10 etc.). The words are at the start of this post. (Click to enlarge.)  In researching the visual elements, I have recalled or learned so many interesting tidbits of information that I felt I must share them with the viewers of the etchings and a wider world audience. So, with this blog, I plan to write short (easy and quick to read) posts about something I found interesting, and I think you will also. I'll include images when I can, usually ones from my own travels, as well as the inspiration etching. And sometimes, I may talk about the creative process and how some of the artwork came to be.  In addition to the obvious theme (dancing, drumming, etc.), the border images reference textile art, basketry, pottery, architecture, culture and history.  These are the basis for this blog. Thank you for sharing this journey with me.  I'll send you an email whenever I post a new blog entry.  (They will  be in random order.)

If you have ever wondered about the following, this blog is for you . . . .*
Click Blog Email Sign up at the left . . . . .
1 What is the difference between Fandango and Fintango?
2 In which country, do today's women were dresses reminiscent of  Victorian Europe and headgear modeled after cow horns?
3 Where in the world do women wear lace hats so tall they barely fit through a door frame (which is why they stopped at that height)?
4 Where is the traditional folk dance named after a spider that doesn't live in that country? 
5 What stringed instrument is shaped like a triangle? (not a harp)
6 Where will you find "Celtic" bagpipes outside of Scotland?
7 What do Polish Wycinanki, Swiss Scherenschnitte, Mexican Papel Picada and Swedish Julejerter have in common? 
8 On what continent will be find the Wari ? or the Warli? 
9 Where will you find a loom that allows weavers to weave circles? 
10 Just what is a Bigwala?
Bonus: Why have I not heard of many of these before? Is it time to broaden my world references? 
*Sign up for the blog to find the answers. They will be answered in subsequent postings. Discover the world!!  It really is a wonderful place.

You are never too old to learn something new. I've been learning about traditional customs and culture in countries from A to Z (Armenia, Argentina, Australia, Austria to Zimbabwe, Zulu culture, with lots in between), countries from varied  geographic regions of Africa; Asia, Southeast Asia; Middle East; Europe; North, Central, and South America; Oceania; indigenous peoples who cross political boundaries, such as the Ojibwe, the Hmong, the Bantu, the Yup'ik, and the Basque.  Since part of my rationale for creating this project was to draw attention to a wide range of  fascinating traditions that show the arts in everyday life and to preserve them in print, I was a encouraged to find that many of the elements I was representing in art were also on the UNESCO Intangible Heritage list. I'll be talking  about some of these. 

About the author: 
As some of you know, I have loved folk customs and culture all my life and written about international artists and folk cultures for most of my professional life, including hundreds of freelance articles for magazines published around the world, as well as writing a syndicated column called "ArtSmart Travels with Barbara Rizza Mellin" based on my travel experiences in 24 countries on 5 continents.  When my article on Modern Art in Barcelona appeared in a Chiang Rai Airport Publication in Thailand, it affirmed what I had always suspected, that people everywhere are interesting in learning about other people anywhere. We want  and need to be connected. 

In addition to writing, I have taught college courses for 20 years (Humanities, World Art, Asian Art, Studio Art, English and Magazine Writing)  and I have taught Studio Art (drawing, painting, printmaking) to children and adults for longer than that.

Oh, and I'm also an exhibiting artist (painter and printmaker), but you knew that. 

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The Art and Writing of Barbara Rizza Mellin