Top 25 Folk art artists who changed its history

Folk art is a genre of art that has roots in traditional civilizations and is frequently produced by individuals with little to no professional art education. Many media, such as pottery, textiles, paintings, and sculptures, can be used to create this kind of art.

Folk art frequently reflects the social and cultural norms of a specific community or area. It may contain traditional crafts, such as quilting or embroidery, and can be very decorative.

Grandma Moses, a well-known folk artist noted for her depictions of American rural life, and Howard Finster, a maker of vivid, intricate sculptures and paintings, are two examples.

1. Jamini Roy

Folk art artists

Born: 11 April 1887, Beliatore

Died: 24 April 1972, Kolkata

Nationality: Indian

Artworks: Three Pujarins, Yashoda and Krishna

Award: Padma Bhushan (1955)

  • Jamini Ray was an Indian painter.
  • In 1954, Roy received the State award of Padma Bhushan.
  • Roy is still a well-known pupil of Abanindranath Tagore. Another highly regarded Indian artist and teacher is Roy.
  • Jamini Roy was born on 11 April 1887 to a moderately wealthy Kayastha couple of land-owners from Beliatore village in the Bankura district, West Bengal.
  • The most influential was the Kalighat Pat.


2. Grandma Moses

Folk art artists

Born: 7 September 1860, Greenwich, New York, United States

Died: 13 December 1961, Hoosick Falls, New York, United States

Period: Naïve art

Record label: RCA Victor

  • Anna Mary Robertson Moses is an American folk musician.
  • At the age of 78, she began to paint seriously. She is an example of an older artist who has had a successful career in art.
  • Her work has been displayed and sold worldwide, even in museums. They have also been used as merchandise, such as greeting cards.
  • She was a housekeeper since age 12 and remained a resident for 15 years.
  • She embroidered pictures with yarn until she was disabled by arthritis.


3. Jivya Soma Mashe

Folk art artists

Born: 19 May 1934, Thane

Died: 15 May 2018

Style: Warli tribal art form

Awards: Prince Claus Awards

Books: Dialog: Richard Long, Jivya Soma Mashe

  • Divya Soma Mashed, an Indian artist who popularized the Warli tribal form of art, was from the Maharashtra state.
  • Moshe was born in Dhamangaon village, Talasari Taluka of Thane District, Maharashtra.
  • His talents were quickly recognized, both nationally and internationally.
  • His artistic talents amazed the first government agents sent to protect and preserve Warli Painting.
  • His first outside-Indian exhibition was held at the Palais de Menton in France in 1976.
  • He was awarded the National Award for Tribal Art in 1976.


4. Ganga Devi

Folk art artists

Born: 1928

Died: 1991

  • Ganga Devi is an Indian painter.
  • Her popularity in the Madhubani painting is widely acknowledged.
  • In 1928, she was born in Mithila, an Indian state in Bihar. She was raised in a Kayastha home and began to paint.
  • In 1984, the Government of India presented her with the National Master Craftsman Award. It was followed by the fourth highest civil award of Padma Shri.
  • Ganga Devi, a famous mural of the bridal nuptial chamber in the Crafts Museum, Delhi, was painted in the 1980s.


5. Baua Devi

Folk art artists

Born: Madhubani

Awards: Padma Shri

  • Baua Devi is a Mithila paint artist from Jitwarpur Village, Madhubani district in Bihar.
  • The Mithila painting, folk art from the region, is an example of an old tradition.
  • It can be described as a series of complex, linear, and geometric patterns traced on the walls in the inner chambers of a house.
  • Baua Devi was awarded the National Award in 1984 and the Padma Shri in 2017.
  • Baua Devi has been practicing the Mithila art form for almost 60 years.


6. Ammi Phillips

Folk art artists

Born: 24 April 1788, Colebrook, Connecticut, United States

Died: 11 July 1865, Curtisville, East Bridgewater, Massachusetts, United States

  • Ammi Phillips, an American itinerant portrait artist, was active in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York from the mid-1810s to the early 1860s.
  • Although he is best known for his portraits in red of children, they only represent ten percent of his entire body.
  • Phillips was born on April 24, 1788, in Colebrook, Connecticut.
  • Laura Brockway’s family has roots in Sharon, Connecticut.


7. Clementine Hunter

Folk art artists

Born: Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana, United States

Died: 1 January 1988, Louisiana, United States

  • Clementine Hunter, a self-taught Black folk musician from the Cane River Region of Louisiana, lived and worked at Melrose Plantation.
  • When she was young, she worked as a farm laborer and didn’t learn to read or write.
  • Hunter was the son of a Louisiana Creole couple at Hidden Hill Plantation, near Cloutierville.
  • She sold her first painting for 25 cents.
  • Her work was being sold by dealers and exhibited in museums by the end of her life.


8. William Edmondson

Folk art artists

Born: 1874, Davidson County, Tennessee, United States

Died: 7 February 1951, Nashville, Tennessee, United States

  • William Edmondson, an African-American folk artist sculptor, was the first to have a one-person exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City (1937).
  • Edmondson was probably born in December 1874 at the Compton Plantation, Davidson County, Tennessee.
  • Because of the fire that decimated the family Bible, he didn’t know his date of birth.
  • Edmondson was the sixth child of Orange and Jane Edmondson, who were previously enslaved before becoming sharecroppers.
  • In late 1889, Edmondson, 16, refused to continue working tirelessly on his father’s plantation. He moved to Nashville.


9. Milton W. Hopkins

Folk art artists

Born: 1 August 1789, Harwinton, Connecticut, United States

Died: 24 April 1844

  • Milton William Hopkins was an American portrait painter from the folk art tradition.
  • He and his family moved to Newport in New York in 1823.
  • In 1829, he returned to New York. He advertised himself as an artist-teacher and portrait painter four years later.
  • His first work, a portrait he painted of an unidentified male, was created that same year.
  • In 1836, he moved to Ohio.


10. Eunice Pinney

Folk art artists

Born: 9 February 1770

Died: 1849

  • Eunice Pinney was an American folk musician in the Connecticut towns of Windsor and Simsbury.
  • Pinney was an educated woman from a prominent Connecticut family.
  • Eunice married Oliver Holcombe, Granby (born 1769), in 1790.


11. Erastus Salisbury Field

Folk art artists

Born: 19 May 1805, Massachusetts, United States

Died: 28 June 1900, Sunderland, Massachusetts, United States

Books: Erastus Salisbury Field, 1805-1900

  • Erastus Salisbury Field was an American folk artist and painter of portraits, landscapes, and history photos.
  • Erastus Field, his twin sister Salome, and their mother were both born in Leverett (Massachusett) on May 19, 1805.
  • His earliest painting is a portrait of his grandmother Elizabeth Billings Ashley. It was painted in 1826.
  • After seven years in New York, he moved to Sunderland to take care of his father’s farm.


12. Bill Traylor

Folk art artists

Born: 1 April 1854, Benton, Alabama, United States

Died: 23 October 1949, Montgomery, Alabama, United States

On view: Smithsonian American Art Museum, High Museum of Art, Birmingham Museum of Art, Milwaukee Art Museum

  • William Traylor is an African-American self-taught artist originally from Lowndes County in Alabama.
  • He began to use a pencil and a piece of paper at the age of 85 to record his memories and observations.
  • Bill Traylor was born in April 1853 in Benton, Alabama.
  • The mid-1860s were a time of profound personal and economic change for Traylor.
  • He worked on the plantation, and now he is a sharecropper.


13. Horace Pippin

Folk art artists

Born: 22 February 1888, West Chester, Pennsylvania, United States

Died: 6 July 1946, West Chester, Pennsylvania, United States

Periods: Naïve art, Expressionism, Social realism, Modern art, Harlem Renaissance

Known for: Painting

  • Horace Pippin is an American self-taught artist.
  • He was the first Black artist to make the monograph.
  • He was born on February 22nd, 1888, in West Chester (Pennsylvania).
  • He was raised in and around Goshen in New York but would later return to West Chester as an adult.


14. Rufus Hathaway

Folk art artists

Born: 1770

Died: 13 October 1822

Grandchild: Judith Winsor Smith

Great grandchild: Zilpha Drew Smith

Children: Polly Hathaway

  • Rufus Hathaway, an American physician and folk art painter, was born in 1897.
  • He was born in southern Massachusetts and painted many portraits between 1790-1795.
  • There are 33 portraits of Hathaway that we know exist. They date almost exclusively from the period 1790-1795.
  • He also painted landscapes and portrait miniatures.


15. Maud Lewis

Folk art artists

Born: 7 March 1903, Yarmouth, Canada

Died: 30 July 1970, Digby, Canada

Nationality: Canadian

Spouse: Everett Lewis (m. 1938–1970)

Children: Catherine Dowley

Parents: Agnes Dowley, John Dowley

  • Maud Kathleen Lewis is a Canadian folk musician hailing from Nova Scotia.
  • She spent most of her adult life in poverty in a tiny house in Marshalltown in Nova Scotia.
  • Her work is displayed at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia and in her restored home, which she decorated with her art.
  • Charles was her only brother. She was born with congenital disabilities and eventually developed rheumatoid arthritis. This severely limited her mobility, particularly in her hands.


16. Howard Finster

Folk art artists

Born: 2 December 1916, Valley Head, Alabama, United States

Died: 22 October 2001, Rome, Georgia, United States

Genre: Children’s Music

Record label: Folkways Records

Books: Howard Finster, Man of Visions

  • Howard Finster is an American artist and Baptist pastor from Georgia. His design of the swampy land into Paradise Garden was a way for God to inspire him.
  • Finster was one of 13 children born in Valley Head (Alabama) to Samuel Finster and Lula Finster.
  • From the age of six, he attended school until sixth grade.


17. Minnie Adkins

Folk art artists

Born: 13 March 1934 (age 88 years), Isonville, Kentucky, United States

  • Minnie Akins is an American folk musician.
  • Minnie Adkins, a Kentucky folk painter, is well-known for her painted wood carvings.
  • Her father gave her a pocketknife, and she soon began to enjoy a hobby mostly shared with boys and men.
  • Many of her paintings were part of the Kentucky Folk Art Center collection in 1985.


18. Ruby Devol Finch

Folk art artists

Born: 20 November 1804, Westport, Massachusetts, United States

Died: 7 July 1866, New Bedford, Massachusetts, United States

  • Ruby Devol was an American folk artist.
  • She was the younger sister of two; prior reporting incorrectly described her as one among seven children.
  • She created a family record for Silas Kirby in 1831.
  • According to her death record, she was buried at Westport.
  • She was a great believer in decorative qualities and avoided repetition. The variety of their poses can delineate even repeated motifs.


19. Leo Smith

Folk art artists

Born: 1947 (age 75 years), Winona, Minnesota, United States

  • American folk artist and sculptor Leo R. Smith hails from Winona in Minnesota. He works mainly in wood.


20. Mary Ann Willson

Folk art artists

Period: Outsider art

  • Mary Ann Willson is an American folk artist whose work has remained largely unknown for over a century.
  • Mary Ann Willson, an American folk artist, was based in Greene County. New York.
  • She was not known until 1943, when a portfolio of her work was discovered in New York City by the Harry Stone Gallery.


21. Ruby Williams

Folk art artists

Born: 9 June 1928, Bealsville

Died: 8 August 2022, Plant City, Florida, United States

  • Ruby C. Williams is an American folk musician.
  • She was born in Beallsville and grew up there.


22. Joseph Whiting Stock

Folk art artists

Born: 30 January 1815, Springfield, Massachusetts, United States

Died: 1855, Springfield, Massachusetts, United States

Books: The paintings and the journal of Joseph Whiting Stock

  • Joseph Whiting Stock is an American painter known for his miniatures and landscape paintings.
  • Stock, then eleven years old, was struck by an oxcart and became paraplegic throughout his life.
  • He had paraplegia, and for the rest of his life, he was [2]. After this accident, he started to study painting under Franklin White.
  • Stock, who was forty years old, died in Springfield from tuberculosis in 1855. The stock was forty years of age.


23. Gabriel Bien-Aimé

Folk art artists

Born: 1951 (age 71 years)

  • Gabriel Bien Aime was an ex-Minister of National Education for Haiti.
  • From 2006 to 2008, he was Minister of National Education.


24. Noah North

Folk art artists

Born: 27 June 1809

Died: 15 June 1880

  • He was the son of a prominent family involved in civic affairs.
  • Van Rensselaer Hawkins was his friend, and he became interested in painting.
  • His career as an artist was short; it was almost exclusively limited to the 1830s.
  • His style is simple but reminiscent of early New England limners.
  • He returned to New York in 1841 and got married.


25. Elizabeth Glaser

Folk art artists

  • Elizabeth Glaser, an American folk musician.
  • Glaser is little more than the inscriptions on her paintings.

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