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Wood Sign Carving

What are traditional arts?
Traditional arts are artistic activities that are passed down from one generation to the next within families and communities and are regarded by the community as part of their heritage. These activities can include music, dance, storytelling, crafts, skills, celebrations, and architecture. Communities can be defined in many ways, such as groups that share the same ethnic heritage, language, geographic area, religion, occupation, or way of life.

For a traditional artist, being true to the past is usually more important than change or innovation. Therefore, the techniques and forms of traditional arts tend to change very slowly. Though each generation adds their special gift to the tradition, the sense of what is beautiful and well done is defined more by the community than by an individual artist's personal creative vision. Because of this, traditional arts often become symbols of identity and pride for a community.

Traditional arts encompass folk arts. These are local "grass roots" artistic activities that are usually taught informally. A fiddle player may learn by playing along with older musicians at local community dances, a quilter may learn by helping her mother, a woodcarver may learn by helping out a neighbor, and a storyteller usually draws upon real life experiences growing up in a particular region or neighborhood. Folklife embraces a much wider range of cultural activities including food traditions, occupational skills, ways of speaking, and celebrating.

The NH State Arts Council’s Traditional Arts Program seeks to be responsive to how communities define themselves and their traditions. Because of limited resources, we place emphasis on supporting tradition bearers that have a direct connection to the community or group from which a tradition emerged.

Here are just a few of the traditional art forms that can be found in New Hampshire:
New England social dance & music (including contra and square dancing); French-Canadian fiddling and song; Scottish Highland piping, drumming & dance; Irish ceili dancing; Jewish Klezmer music; African-American gospel music; African drumming and dance; Western Abenaki ash & sweet grass basket making; quilting; rug braiding; rug hooking; spinning; lace-making; dried wreath making; decorative painting; Scandinavian knitting; Chinese knot tying; Russian iconography; musical instrument making; furniture making; sign carving; fly tying; Polish paper cutting; wood carving; barrel making (cooperage); canoe building; boat building; dog sled making; snowshoe making; fish net making; bow and arrow making; harness making; stone wall building; timber framing; ox yoke making; and harness making.

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Wood Sign Carving

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