Folk and Traditional Arts Resources
We’ve curated a list of valuable tools and information to help support Midwestern folk and traditional arts practitioners.
Recent Folk + Traditional Arts Stories
Meet Noelle Benson, a Native American Star Quilt Maker in North Dakota
October 26 2023
Colors, traditions, and prayers are all pieced into Benson’s star quilts. Her craft has been encouraged by the women in her family.
Community Mentorship Sets Sail with Wisconsin’s Hands On Deck
October 24 2023
The non-profit organization is keeping traditional craft afloat through community boatbuilding in Green Bay.
With Patience and Sincerity, Indiana Artist Pursues a 6,000-Year-Old Art Form
October 12 2023
“Urushi is most close to who I am,” says Indianapolis-based artist Nhat Tran, who has been creating abstract sculptural and 2D pieces with lacquer over the past two decades.
This Wisconsin Museum Preserves and Prints With the World’s Largest Collection of Wood Type
September 26 2023
From type factory to “working museum,” Hamilton still calls Two Rivers, Wisconsin, home, bringing artists together from all over the world.
A Bright Spot: The First Two-Spirit Powwow in Rapid City
September 21 2023
Local and national attendees participated and people danced with and for their communities at the inaugural powwow of its kind in western South Dakota.
Turning Green Wood into Spoons in Rural Wisconsin
September 19 2023
Drawn by the utility and accessibility of the craft, spoon carvers in the Driftless region gather to create a new niche for future generations.
Meet Dani Tippmann, a Native Plant Tradition Bearer in Indiana
September 12 2023
A member of the Miami (Myaamia) Tribe of Oklahoma, Tippmann’s work brings people together through plants, culture and sense of community.
Folk Art Takes Root Among Rural Iowa Willow Weavers
September 6 2023
From growing their materials to teaching others the craft, Lee Zieke and Lindsay Lee’s artistic practices are creatively interwoven with their lives.
Ghanaian Music Moves Rural Michigan
August 16 2023
Okaidja Afroso’s week-long World Fest residency brought music into schools, stores, and a Main Street theater, spreading connection and curiosity in small town Albion.
Friendship and Family at the Heart of This Native Regalia Supply Store
July 31 2023
Arlene Fairbanks and Jessica Travis opened a one-stop shop to support sewing and regalia-making, an important cultural and creative practice for Native Americans.
Lakota Hoop Dancer Starr Chief Eagle Tells her Story, and Inspires New Ones
May 4 2023
In Indigenous culture, the arts aren’t mere entertainment but a vital practice grounded in community. Those arts include hoop dancing, a form of storytelling through movement. Starr Chief Eagle is…
The Black Hills Are Alive With Finnish Music
May 4 2023
Finnish music sensation Okra Playground brought its captivating and charming sound to South Dakota, connecting cultures through music.
Calves, Cheese, and Creativity!
April 11 2023
If we told you there’s a farm where calving, cheese-making, watercolor painting, and singing (to cows) converge, would you believe us?
Cross-Cultural Exchange: Inuit Music in the Midwest
March 29 2023
The music of Alaskan ensemble Pamyua moved communities in rural Wisconsin and Michigan, creating “one-in-a-lifetime” moments of connection, collaboration and curiosity.
Over 100 Years in the Making: The Lakota Song Repatriation Project
December 12 2022
An act of preservation in 1911 made way for this living project that reclaims Lakota culture, knowledge and religious freedom.
Not Just Any Kitchen: Sharing Knowledge at Sitting Bull Visitor Center
August 25 2022
A space is truly of the community when it is shaped by the needs of the people it serves. The Sitting Bull Visitor Center in Fort Yates, North Dakota, the…
Interview: Rhonda Greene on Sustaining African Dance in Detroit
May 17 2021
As Executive Director of Heritage Works in Detroit, Michigan, Rhonda Greene has spent decades connecting folks to West African cultural traditions through youth programs, community programs, and placemaking efforts. Arts Midwest spoke with Rhonda…
Song, Bread, Friendship: Exploring Finnish Heritage in Minnesota
May 10 2021
Over the course of seven days and nine time zones, Finnish band Kardemimmit joined Minnesota’s New York Mills community in celebrating its Scandinavian heritage.
Podcast: Music & Mental Health In Northern Minnesota
On this episode, we talk with Sam Miltich, a professional jazz guitarist from rural Minnesota who lives with schizophrenia. Sam shares how he’s found solace in nature and how he’s been able to balance his music career and mental health.
Podcast: Art & The Land
On this episode, hear from two Ojibwe artists whose creative practices are deeply connected to the land. Birchbark and quill artist Pat Kruse and water walker Sharon Day share their perspectives on the importance of having a reciprocal relationship with the natural environment and caring for community.
Podcast: Digging Into The Indian Arts And Crafts Act
On this episode, embark on a thought-provoking exploration as Native artist advocates Christina Woods and Graci Horne dig into the intricacies of the Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990. This landmark truth-in-advertising law prohibits misrepresentation in the marketing of Indian arts and crafts, but many say that the legislation doesn’t go far enough to protect Native artists.