What are folk & traditional arts?


Folk & traditional artists are tradition bearers: people who transmit what they believe, know, do, and create with others who share a common heritage, language, religion, occupation, or region.  These expressions are deeply rooted in and reflective of a community’s shared standards of beauty, values, or life experiences.  Folk and traditional arts are, ultimately, passed on from one generation to the next and express a collective wisdom, rather than a unique personal aesthetic.

From Native American Ohlone basketry and African-American quilt-making to cowboy poetry and Vietnamese opera, California is home to hundreds of diverse traditions.  Some folk and traditional arts have been brought to California from other countries or regions and have taken root here to become interwoven with the state’s cultural landscape and identity, while others have prospered on the more than 130 tribal reservations and rancherías in this state.