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Isiah Zagar, Genius

Influencing Isaiah Zagar: Folk Art

If you look through the mosaic installation at PMG, you’ll find figurines of people and animals created from wood, ceramic, and metal. These objects are folk art, and illustrate the stories, values, and heritage of particular cultures or communities. Although folk art is often traditional, it is always changing, and evolves as quickly as the culture it belongs to.

Isaiah Zagar first discovered his love of folk art in 1963, when he and his new wife Julia joined the Peace Corps in Peru. They traveled to different villages in the Andes and helped folk artists find venues in which to sell their artwork. Zagar was inspired by the colors, the forms, and often the humor, that he saw in Peruvian folk art.

Since his years in Peru, Zagar has traveled to numerous countries to meet and collaborate with different folk artists. He will often commission a piece by drawing something which the folk artist then recreates in his or her own medium. Today, there are numerous pieces of folk art throughout the garden – including Mexican, Peruvian, and Balinese.

What do you think of when you think of folk art?