Teachers' Orientation Pages to:
Illinois Folk Art: Heartfelt/Handmade
The Collection and Exhibit
The Illinois State Museum collection contains rich
examples of Illinois folk art, especially of the nine-
teenth century. Some objects of the collection are on
display in At Home in the Heartland Exhibit at the
Illinois State Museum in Springfield . These include
the snake pot, the hair wreath, and all of the furniture
except the Eastlake table. Other pieces in the collec-
tion are part of a traveling exhibit of Illinois folk art
named Heartfelt/Handmade, which will open in
Peoria, Illinois in May of 2000. Watch this URL for
The Text and Interdisciplinary Use
The text in the Folk Art section was written to include several kinds of information, including facts
about the makers or artists, the art form, and the social meaning of the artwork.
Where possible, we include information about the maker. Sometimes the maker was not a
professional artist, but a private citizen such as a father, a teenager, or a widow. County
clerks' offices, and county historical societies have census records and county atlases con-
taining information on individuals, families, and houses or property. Sometimes you can find
living descendants of the owners or makers who have more information. If the maker or
owner of one of the artworks in this module lived in your part of Illinois, your students could
go on a quest for biographical information and stories about these or similar objects.
Another subject of the text here is to inform viewers about how some of the artworks were
made because art-making tools and techniques and art forms themselves have changed since
the nineteenth century.
Because art forms have changed with the society, it is important to include some information
about the meaning of folk art objects in the society and time that produced them. Strong
examples are art objects that reminded the living about their deceased loved ones in the age
before the invention of photography (miniatures, hair wreaths, and death portraits). This
information is a bridge to discussions about the meaning of decorative objects in today's
world the study of public or social history.