Friday, December 21, 2012

A Fading Folk Art

Decoy carving. To quote from Eastern Shore Savvy:
“It’s a traditional folk art,” states fellow carver Clenton Warnick. “People used to make these and actually set their decoys out to sell the ducks that they shot. This was a big market hunting area. You would catch crabs, you would do oysters, or you would shoot ducks.” At some point that very utilitarian view of decoys evolved into an art. The talent of the artisans whose table I shared the other day was matched by their respect and appreciation for the history and culture of the art form itself.

Obvious to anyone that attended the recent Waterfowl Festival, decoy carving has a history strongly rooted in the Eastern Shore. But like many things that define the communities of our country, a change in priorities, lifestyle, and technology is easing art forms like decoy carving into obscurity. Gene Rall and his fellow carvers, however, are dedicated to keeping the craft alive and relevant.  “We’re trying to build [the group] so that it is at least sustainable as a beginners class and an experienced class,” says Gene who moved to the Eastern Shore from Philadelphia for the decoy carving culture. “Then our mission would be to reach out to high schools. And, either through the industrial arts program or through the art program, get younger people involved in this art form of bird carving.” (Read entire post.)

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