American Folk Art: A Regional Reference offers a collection of fascinating essays on the life and work of 300 individual artists. Some of the men and women profiled in these two volumes are well known, while others are important practitioners who have yet to receive the notice they merit. Because many of the artists in both categories have a clear identity with their land and culture, the work is organized by geographical region and includes an essay on each region to help make connections visible. There is also an introductory essay on U.S. folk art as a whole.
Those writing about folk art to date tend to view each artist as either traditional or innovative. One of the major contributions of this work is that it demonstrates that folk artists more often exhibit both traits; they are grounded in their cultural context and creative in the way they make work their own. Such insights expand the study of folk art even as they readjust readers' understanding of who folk artists are.