One of the central goals of the Mississippi Arts Commission is to increase awareness of the state's folk and traditional art forms. As part of this work, the Commission's Mississippi Heritage Program documents musicians, craftspeople, and other community-based art forms with photography, audio, and video recording. The slides, negatives, audio and videotapes (and now their digital counterparts) created through this work are stored and archived at the Commission in our Folk Arts Archive. While some of this material is shared with the public in our publications and other programs, the vast majority of it is never published or released.
This website was created to help remedy this situation. Thanks to a grant from the Mississippi Humanities Council, The Mississippi Folklife and Folk Artist Directory provides access to a wide sampling of the materials in the Commission's archive. A text description along with images and a sound or video clip (if available) is provided for each artist or community featured. Links to external websites featuring the artist are included when available. The site is searchable by artistic tradition or region to help increase access and usability for visitors.
Unlike the Commission's previous website project, Crossroads of the Heart, the Mississippi Folklife and Folk Artist Directory is an ongoing project. New artists will be added and updates to the current pages will be made on a semi-regular basis (these changes will be noted on the home page). We plan for the site to grow and expand along with the work of the Heritage Program, creating a comprehensive and readily accessible storehouse of information on traditional culture in Mississippi.
The Arts Commission is involved with a wide range of performers and craftspersons through our grants programs and other services we provide for artists. For this site, Heritage Program staff are utilizing the criteria employed in the Commission's folk arts grants for individuals:
- The artist should be recognized in his or her community as an accomplished practitioner of a community-based art form;
- They should be active in the art form, either performing or creating new work on a regular basis, and;
- They should have developed their skills through an informal, traditional process rather than through formal academic courses.
The community events featured on the site are those that the Commission believes best exemplifies community traditions. These are events or food traditions that have deep ties to the history and identity of a community.
The focus of this project is to create awareness of the traditional artists living and working in Mississippi. While there are many artists with Mississippi roots who have achieved considerable national and international recognition (most notably, many blues and gospel musicians), the purpose of this project is to provide information about the artist active in local communities. Those featured are artists that Mississippians can (in many cases) bring to their community for performances, demonstrations, or residencies. The Commission does recognize the achievements of renowned Mississippi artists, most notably through our Governor's Awards program.
Mary Margaret Miller
Heritage Program Director
Mississippi Arts Commission
501 North West Street, Suite 1101A
Jackson, MS 39201
(601) 359-6008 fax
All content on this site (unless where noted) is copyright © Mississippi Arts Commission, 2002-2009. Use without permission is prohibited.
Funding for this project was provided by the Mississippi Humanities Council.