I wanted to read this book because my father, a clever man, is a self-taught artist and we live in the south. My father makes assemblages, and lately he’s been making lamps out of… anything and everything. He started all of this after he retired, and I was curious to see how other self-taught artists got their start as well.

The first thing this book showed me was that I’ve been calling all of this untrained, self-taught art, whathaveyou, folk art. And apparently folk art is utilitarian, like quilts or pots or something. So I’ve been calling it the wrong thing for years.

The second thing this book showed me was how amazingly diverse these self-taught artists are. For some reason (my own ignorant bias? No! But yes.) I thought all of this self-taught art was going to look like the Rev. Howard Finster’s stuff. Not that that would be a bad thing, but I was just really pleased at how different every single artist is in the book.

I have to say, I’m pretty sure I smiled the whole time I was reading this. The artists’ bite-sized stories were all so unique, and their art was so, I dunno, liberating for them? Yeah, that’s it, it was so delightful to read about people doing art for the love of making something themselves.

The pictures of the artwork were great as well. I was impressed at how many pieces were shown for each artist. I was also surprised how many of the artists are spiritually motivated in their art, I don’t know if that’s because they live in the south or what. But it seemed to be a running theme.

I loved this book. The author showed the importance, struggle, and strength it sometimes takes for people to make art.

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